Wednesday, October 12
Taking "High Occupancy" Out of High-Occupancy/Toll Lanes
Initially I didn't like the idea of high-occupancy/toll lanes because I thought they encouraged single-occupancy driving and would crowd the carpoolers out of what had been lanes meant for them, though now I see that they can raise funds for additional express public transit service and would be priced for occasional use, not habitual use. But according to this commentary in the East Bay Business Times, the problem with HOT lanes is the part about high-occupancy vehicles--that is, continuing to allow them at no charge:
The weakness in the current plan is the proposal to exempt car pools from tolls. It is understandable that the authorities are reluctant to eliminate an existing privilege to carpoolers, but retention of this perk has two disadvantages:
* First, as no reliable method has been found to count the occupants of all moving vehicles, enforcement requires that vehicles be stopped if the number of their occupants is in doubt. This is bad for public relations and particularly disruptive on busy roads.
* Second, as more HOVs are allowed toll-free, possibly to be followed by electrically powered vehicles, hybrid vehicles, low polluters, ambulances, fire-engines, police cars and government-owned vehicles, the financial bases of the HOT lanes get weaker. The immediate effect is that tolls required to maintain congestion-free travel become higher on other vehicles than they would otherwise have been. In the long term, as the financial viability of HOT lanes weakens, fewer will be provided.
If exemptions are considered desirable, it would be better to confine them to readily identifiable vehicles such as buses or vanpools, irrespective of the number of occupants.