HOV Could Be on FastTrak to Nowhere

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Bipartisan skepticism over the effectiveness of car pool lanes at reducing emissions and vehicle congestion could help put the brakes on a new plan in the works. 

In California, there are currently two types of car pool lanes in use, HOV, or high occupancy vehicle lanes, which limit use during certain hours to vehicles with two or more occupants. The theory is that such limits will spur car-pooling, reducing the total number of vehicles in use.

But the state has also started limited use of what are called HOT lanes, short for high occupancy toll lanes. Single occupant vehicles are allowed to use such lanes if they pay a special fee, effectively converting what were once freeway lanes into toll roads.

At a hearing on Tuesday, committee chairman Alan Lowenthal said lawmakers introduced five bills in the legislature this year to convent more HOV lanes into HOT lanes. 

"We don't even know if HOV lanes are working so how are we going to expand to HOT lanes until we begin to bring everybody together and really look at some of these issues," Sen. Alan Lowenthal said. 

Senator Bob Duff says he's skeptical of how restricting the use of freeway lanes is supposed to increase traffic speeds or reduce vehicle congestion.

"I was in one those this morning -- jammed bumper to bumper -- so I don't know how that solves anything," Huff said.

Chairman Lowenthal plans to hold another meeting next month, questioning whether the state program which allows low or zero emission vehicles to be issued special permits to use HOV lanes should be continued.

"Should we be renewing those, should we be setting new standards, all of that really we'll be talking about in the next hearing, what we should be doing," Sen. Alan Lowenthal said.

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