Governor Jerry Brown Vetoes Fiona Ma's HOV Lane Bill

While Fiona Ma's bill sailed through the state legislature, critics had said she tried to float the bill to help her own commute.

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    Assemblywoman Fiona Ma authored a bill that would remove the HOV lane going north on 80 between the Bay Bridge and Carquinez Bridge. The bill sailed through the state legislature. Critics say Ma passed it so it would help her and other lawmakers on their commutes only. Stephanie Chuang reports. (Published Monday, Sept. 24, 2012)

    Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a bill authored by a San Francisco lawmaker that would have eased the "wrong way" morning commute between the Bay Area and the State Capitol.

    The Sacramento Bee's Capitol Alert blog reported on Sunday that Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 2200 by Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, which would have lifted restrictions for the eastbound and carpool lane on Interstate 80 from the Bay Bridge to the Carquinez Bridge during the morning commute.

    But Brown didn't want to go for it.

    "Encouraging carpooling is important to reduce pollution and make more efficient use of our highways," he wrote in his veto message reported by the Bee. "This bill goes in a wrong direction."

    While Ma's bill sailed through the state legislature, critics had said she tried to float the bill to help her own commute.

    In a prior interview with NBC Bay Area, Ma vigorously denied that claim.

    “This is for all the people who commute every day and have to get someplace on time," she said. "Time is money.”

    Before the veto, Ma went to Caltrans for the answers on the empty HOV lanes. It turns out - Caltrans had stopped tracking the number of drivers in the carpool lanes on this stretch freeway because there were too few.

    So Ma drafted AB 2200, which would have gotten rid of the carpool lane. And she started shopping it around the Capitol, finding immediate support, including some from State Senator Joe Simitian.

    “You’ve had the same experience that I’ve had for 12 years Assembly Member, and to your credit, you’ve been more tenacious than I was,” Simitian said in a previous interview with NBC Bay Area.

    Simitian,  Senator Elaine Alquist and Senator Mark Leno, all made a similar commute.

    Based on the latest data from Caltrans from 2009, some of the least used HOV lanes are:

    • Interstate Highway 680 from the Alameda County line south to highway 237 is used 30 percent of the time.
    • Interstate Highway 880 from the Santa Clara County line north to Whipple Road is used 25 percent of the time.
    • And Interstate Highway 680 in Contra Costa County from highway 242 heading north to the Benicia Bridge is used only 10 percent of the time.

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