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Yet another story on stupid hydrid-SOV-in-HOV-lane non-law

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  • 2/1 Associated Press
    Published Tuesday, February 1, 2005, by the Associated Press Hybrids could gain access to car pool lanes Controversial proposition opposed by some in auto
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2005
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      Published Tuesday, February 1, 2005, by the Associated Press

      Hybrids could gain access to car pool lanes
      Controversial proposition opposed by some in auto industry

      By Erica Werner

      A California law allowing hybrid cars into car pool lanes
      without passengers could take effect under legislation being
      introduced in the House and Senate.

      The law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September has stalled
      because federal rules allow only cars carrying one or more passengers
      onto car pool lanes. There are exceptions for electric and
      alternative-fuel vehicles, but not for hybrid cars like the Toyota
      Prius, which are powered by a gas engine in combination with an
      electric motor.

      Reps. Darrell Issa, R-Vista, and Brad Sherman, D-Sherman Oaks,
      scheduled a press conference today to announce legislation that would
      let states make their own rules about cars in high occupancy vehicle
      lanes. Sen. Dianne Feinstein plans to introduce similar legislation
      in the Senate this week or next.

      "It only makes sense for states to be able to encourage drivers to
      consume less gas by the means they think is best, in this case by
      letting drivers of high-mileage hybrid vehicles use HOV lanes,"
      Feinstein said in a statement Monday.

      California's law is opposed by some in the auto industry because it
      applies only to vehicles that get at least 45 miles per gallon.
      Currently only the Prius and hybrids made by Honda get that kind of
      mileage, while hybrids made by Ford and others wouldn't be allowed.

      "We think all advanced-technology vehicles should be allowed to use
      HOV lanes," said Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for the Alliance of
      Automobile Manufacturers. "The government shouldn't pick winners and
      losers when it comes to encouraging consumers to buy more
      fuel-efficient vehicles."

      Sherman and Issa introduced similar legislation during the last
      congressional session that didn't make it through Congress. But there
      is support for their measure. Both the House and the Senate agreed to
      a provision allowing hybrids onto car pool lanes as part of a
      transportation bill that passed both chambers last year but never made
      it to President Bush's desk.

      The Federal Highway Administration said in a statement that it
      supports proposals to "allow hybrids to use HOV lanes provided they
      remain an attractive alternative to regular, non-HOV lanes."

      The Highway Administration has raised concerns about Virginia, where
      all hybrids, regardless of mileage, have been allowed in car pool
      lanes since 2000. Virginia implemented its law despite the conflict
      with federal law, and federal officials agreed to leave the program in
      place while the issue worked its way through Congress.

      But recently, sales of hybrids have skyrocketed in Virginia, and there
      are now so many that motorists are complaining car pool lanes are as
      congested as every other lane, according to the Virginia Department of
      Transportation.

      California's law requires drivers of hybrids to obtain special decals
      from the Department of Motor Vehicles and sets a limit of 75,000
      decals. The law also sunsets after three years, and provides for
      periodic review by California transportation officials, ensuring that
      Virginia's problems won't be replicated in California, said
      Assemblywoman Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, author of the legislation.

      [BATN believes this just as much as when MTC and Caltrans said new HOV
      lanes wouldn't be converted to mixed-flow, and just as much as when
      MTC and Caltrans said that Bay Bridge east span replacement was more
      cost-effective than retrofit at only $1 billion, and just as much as
      when MTC and BART said 69,000 daily riders would ride the Millbrae
      extension, and just as much as ... ]

      "We have some very careful protections in our bill that give authority
      to Caltrans to look carefully at lane capacity," Pavley said.

      Currently, there are about 20,000 hybrid cars owned in California, she
      said.
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