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California commuters will either celebrate or curse SB 535, a new law that extends hybrid and alternative-fuel vehicles' usage of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in the Golden State.

Introduced by Sen. Leland Yee and signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the new law expands the ability for hybrid, electric and natural-gas powered vehicles fitted with the ubiquitous yellow bumper stickers to drive solo in the carpool lanes during designated hours. Additionally, it increases the number of permits to 40,000 and widens the eligible vehicles to include the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and the Nissan Leaf EV.

Some lawmakers opposed the bill, citing that California's carpool lanes are already congested with alt-fuel vehicles and additional permits will exacerbate the issue. And this shouldn't come as a surprise, but General Motors sponsored the bill.

[Source: LA Times]


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  • 39 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      You won't need much of the HOV lane with a range of40 Miles!!!!!!!
      • 4 Years Ago
      It is NOT about emission's or congestion. It is all about GOVERNMENT CONTROL!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I never understood this law. Aren't carpool lanes designed to reduce congestion? Do hybrids, EVs etc produce less congestion, than say a Mustang GT?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I never really figured allowing EVs to use the HOV lane was related to congestion, I always thought it was just a perk to entice people to buy more fuel efficient cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Nearly as congested... Try sometimes they're more congested. There's been plenty of times when I'm stopped in the car-pool lane while traffic is going 40mph+ with no way to get out thanks to their double yellow lines and carpool exits only every mile or so. Really encourages carpooling...
        • 4 Years Ago
        No, but they produce fewer carbon emissions. Meaning: they keep the air cleaner.

        To be honest, this only makes sense to me since the HOV lanes always seem to be empty. Allowing a few extra cars in the HOV will keep the regular lanes a bit less congested.
        • 4 Years Ago
        " Aren't carpool lanes designed to reduce congestion?"

        No. They were designed to encourage carpooling in the name of reducing pollution. Allowing EVs is just an extension of that. If they wanted to reduce congestion they'd simply open up all lanes as wide as they could go.
        • 4 Years Ago
        My issue with this has always been that it encourages hybrid owners to drive them in the least efficient way possible - on the freeway. I'd rather they encouraged fuel savings and clean air by rewarding cars with extremely high highway fuel economy numbers to use carpool lanes - and then, only for newer cars.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They're NOT empty! In fact, throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, there are times during the morning and evening commute when HOV lanes are nearly as congested as other lanes and scarcely worth using.

        Worse, in certain corridors there are as many Priuses in the lane as there are legitimate carpoolers.

        Hybrids-in-HOV-lanes was set to expire at the end of the year, and it should NOT have been extended.

      • 4 Years Ago
      hov lanes...what a silly state.
      • 4 Years Ago
      California's laws are irrational. Im glad I dont live there. To bad they have some of the most gorgeous landscapes in America in their possession.
      Just heard on the news they are pushing through a bill to outlaw plastic bags. You have to buy hippy cloth bags to carry your newly purchased merchandise if this passes and it probably will.
        • 4 Years Ago
        blame the proposition system. plastic bags are such a waste. how many people actually reuse them?
        • 4 Years Ago
        A bit off topic, but I'll address my thoughts on it. I'm guessing the law will only apply to grocery stores. I worked/lived in France for a while and they got rid of plastic bags in grocery stores a long time ago.

        You know what? It's actually much nicer using your own bags. I have two cloth bags that I use now. Before, I ended up with the monster pile of plastic bags that I had to get rid of. No more plastic bag monster. Plus, my cloth bags are infinitely stronger and easier to carry stuff in than the plastic bags.

        I'd suggest trying it yourself and see if it changes your opinion. I never gave a thought to it until I lived in France.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I for one reuse all of them... I use for trash bags, lunch boxes, packaging, etc etc. Laws should not dictate things like this. The government is (well originally and I believe should not be) sticking its nose into things like this. This is not something that is a risk to peoples health nor is it a safety factor. If society feels that using recycled plastic bags is something that is wrong it will show it by buying the "green" bags that are provided for a dollar by most grocery outlets and request that their newly bought products be placed in them. There is no need to force everyone to adopt this by a law. There is a reason why California is in the predicament it is today. They are trying to use government to control every social aspect of society with absurd laws and government programs that have led them to having bad debt and a risky credit rating. (aka, they are having trouble fronting the bills) Which is leading to higher taxes and business' fleeing the state because of such laws and requirements.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Dang ... I was hoping that part of that included rescinding the HOV Access-OK stickers from Prius drivers who feel it's fine to hypermile in the HOV lanes.

      • 4 Years Ago
      HOV lanes are a remnant of the Diamond Lanes that were created under the last Jerry Brown Governorship (sic) of California. The Feds now require that any federal money used for highway improvement must be used for HOV lanes.
      Brown and his CalTrans director (Adriana Gianturkey) were both anti-automobile the main purpose of HOV (Diamond Lanes) was to discourage the individual use of automobiles. They must be used for the collective good....
      Therefore HOV lanes are just another example of government forcing political correctness on the public...like it or not.
      So sorry guys it is not meant to help with congestion or pollution but to get you out of your cars and into collective transit.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Typical tree hugger law...you're encouraged to buy an overpriced electric car so you can take unfair advantage of the diamond lane, thus helping to defeat it's original purpose.
      • 4 Years Ago
      HOV lanes really don't save you that much time.
      • 4 Years Ago
      For my area, it would make more sense to delete HOV lanes all together. The lanes are wide open, so wouldnt it be better for traffic and emissions to let everyone use them and free up traffic a little more as a whole? But they wouldnt do this for one simple reason....THE STATE POLICE COLLECT FINES OFF VIOLATORS LIKE CLOCKWORK.....its all a revenue game.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wow, this will be a big boost for the Volt. Although this kind of thing make Priuses popular with people with 100 mile commutes because they had to drive at rush hour a lot. And with the Volt, it won't actually get as good mpg as a Prius if you are driving 100 miles a day, unless maybe you can charge at work.

      And to anyone who thinks this is a corruption of our carpool lanes, they are about to open a lane on the Sunol grade where non-carpoolers in any vehicle can pay a per-use fee to use it.
        • 4 Years Ago
        saw workers on the highway signs for the 680 toll road yesterday
        • 4 Years Ago
        it's a toll road system. come to orange county and there's tons of them.
      • 4 Years Ago
      They should have expired for the Prius and other hybrids but I think they should be granted to new cars like the Leaf and the Volt to encourage people to adopt new efficient technologies. Eventually those benefits would end as well as these cars become more mainstream and new technologies are hitting the market, therefore using the privilege of HOV lane usage to encourage the adoption of new cleaner tech.
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