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Houston Chronicle Article on Hybrids

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Forum Name: Hybrids
Forum Description: This area is devoted to the discussion of hybrid vehicles and their impact to the HOV.
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Topic: Houston Chronicle Article on Hybrids
Posted By: Bob
Subject: Houston Chronicle Article on Hybrids
Date Posted: 22 Aug 2005 at 1:35pm
Below is an interesting article that even mentions the hybrid problems we are having in VA.

The article states that the energy bill that was just passed includes up to a $3400 tax credit (not deduction) starting next year.

My feeling is that the current tax deduction and future federal tax credit is now a gigantic waste of money given gas prices.

So -- I say end the HOV exemption AND the tax benefits.

Posted By: NoSUV
Date Posted: 23 Aug 2005 at 7:43am
Bob - ending the HOV exemption only increases the problems in the regular lanes. Even with the light August traffic, HOV lanes travel faster than the regular lanes - just look to your right! With the cooler weather and the return to gridlock, the difference in flow between the "Express" (HOV) lanes and regular lanes only increases, and that's WITH the exemption in place.

Without the exemption, the OVERALL problem worsens. Solution? TOLLS!

Perhaps a better way to solve the congestion problem is to only allow busses and hybrids in the "Express" Lanes - then we will have a better "demand driven" energy solution as well as provide the ultimate in carpooling with HOV-40.

Posted By: MDC
Date Posted: 23 Aug 2005 at 8:31am
You know there's not enough parking to support that. The best solution is to get SOV hybrids out of HOV and for more people to carpool. That way you reduce congestion in the HOV and main lanes.

Posted By: Max_28756
Date Posted: 23 Aug 2005 at 8:54am
Why is it that hybrid drivers always try to push the conversation towards the energy thing instead of the one and only problem of congestion? The solution is NO SOV's! Enforcement would be easier, since the police wouldn't have to weed out SOV hybrids first. Those out of state drivers on Friday wouldn't be confused by seeing SOV hybrids and thinking SOV for everyone. Why is there such an opposition to picking up slugs or organizing a carpool and being HOV compliant?

Posted By: NoSUV
Date Posted: 23 Aug 2005 at 12:06pm
Just swing the pendulum a bit further. The REAL solution is not "no SOV's" but NO CARS! As pointed out by Max, enforcement is easier. Methinks too many want good deals for themselves, not not for others. Best way to solve this mess is to go back to pre-1974 and allow busses only. By extention, the arguement frequently made that the regular lanes become even more overcrowded has the same answer - get on the bus!

Posted By: MDC
Date Posted: 23 Aug 2005 at 6:33pm
You're getting ridiculous again.

Posted By: CallmeMrSlug
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2005 at 12:37am
I am not so quick to dispatch NoSUV's argument. Imagine that everyone gives up their car, and there is bus service every fifteen minutes to every park and ride. Oh heck, lets say every ten. If there's no cars on the HOV, they could do that. Lets say a bus from Stafford can drop you off into DC where you work within an hour. I currently commute over an hour and fifteen minutes in the HOV lanes. But what if it was all buses only, and they didn't have to worry about an accident on the HOV or traffic slowing them down? I suggest to you that this alternative will be FAR better than what HOT will bring us.

In 1974 or whatever it was when the HOV's opened, it made sense to allow HOV3. But we beyond congestion folks. I wasn't here but you all voted for thirty years for politicians that did not deliver your transportation needs. You got this mess. Despite the reprieve of the past 2 weeks, its getting worse, not better on the HOV. If everyone rode the bus, and did not drive, bus service would be available during most of the business day, because these bus companies could make a killing on the commuter travel. Now I know we love our cars, and hate to think of ANY alterntive that does not include us driving, but are we willing to pay for HOT knowing it will only lead to more congestion?

Here's a stat for you. 83% of VRE riders from Fredericksburg have family incomes greater than 100,000. While thats great for them, do you not think those folks can't afford HOT? Sure they can, and they will drive in cars with only one passenger for the advantage of driving over two hour delays on VRE. Then what happens to your commute from Springfield or points closer when both the main lines and HOV/HOT lanes bog down? You'll still get to work quicker on the HOT lanes, maybe by 15 minutes from Stafford, slower for those used to getting there in less than 20 on HOV, and you will wonder what happened to the good old HOV system. Well, this is all of our future unless we explore alternatives like NoSUV suggests. If his idea stinks, then tell me another one pullease, because am considering moving to Maryland ... and God knows no Virginian wants to do that, lol.

Now that being said, I think NoSUV has said ALOT of things that were just selfish, self centered, and really unfair to this community. Being a devil's advocate does not entitle one to being a jerk sometimes...

Posted By: 122582
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2005 at 8:03am
My near 100k income supports 5 people and a wife going to college. No way I could afford a toll everyday on top of gas, I can barely afford to haul slugs for free anymore.
I'd have to carpool with paying passengers, or take the bus, vanpool, or VRE.

Posted By: SpongeBob
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2005 at 12:08pm
NoSUV's suggestion is that we make it an All-Bus HOV, huh? OK, think about it... All-Bus... All the time? 24/7? Hmm. Does that make sense? No? So you have to let autos in the lanes in non-rush hours... right? So everyone will just wait alone in their cars until that magic moment when they can get on the lanes.

And in case CallMeMr. hasn't noticed, the Dale City bus to Horner ALREADY runs every tens minutes, and has a pretty darn good track record for being on time, at least in the 4 years I've been riding it. The problem with the bus is that it has to go through the city: I work near the State Department and more than half of my evening bus trip involves going North and East to 14th and then all the way down to the River. In the same amount of time, my carpool usually makes it all the way to Horner.

The congestion problem isn't the pipe (I95/395, in other words,) it is the spigots at either end: 14th St., the Pentagon parking lot, Memorial Bridge. Going to HOT will encourage more vehicles to use the pipe because it presents "options", as Fluor and Clark happily claim. So you make the pipe one lane wider and do nothing about the spigots and you have a clogged pipe. No greater volume will flow through than the narrowest bottleneck will allow.

And the problem won't be for the Springfield drivers crowded out by Fredericksburg drivers. It will be the Fredericksburg carpoolers and vanpoolers and slugs who will get to Springfield and find that ALL the solo drivers in Alexandria are happy to pay $.50/mile to use the HOT since it is only 4-5 miles for them. But they will totally clog the system. Think about it.

Posted By: CallmeMrSlug
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2005 at 2:35pm

You make some good points. It can't be a 24-7 restriction, obviously, and the point about those not having a long drive in clogging up the HOV by paying a small amount to save 15-20 minutes each way of their commute is certainly an excellent point. But I do think you have to add the extra Stafford/Fredericksburg folks who will gladly pay the toll and ride alone as to why HOT will be a slower commute for all, with less cash in our pockets.

I agree that, like any bus, or the metro for that matter, the slowness of the ride is attributable to the time it takes to drop off passengers at multiple stops along the way. I think this is definitely a problem but if everyone was taking the bus, perhaps the transportation companies could offer express bus service with stops to only 3 or 4 centralized locations in the city in addition to the usual bus service to locations not well served by the metro. I think these problems could be ironed out.

Its so easy to shoot down ideas, but really hard to come up with alternatives. HOV4 sounds good, until a VW shows up for example, but in an SUV its fine lol. How many forms of transportation are there? Planes, trains, motorcycles, automobiles, metro-rail, motorcycles, bicycles and buses. I don't think our answer lies in the first seven forms. I am not sure it is in the bus either, but I am not so willing to automatically dismiss the concept.

Posted By: NoSUV
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2005 at 3:37pm
Originally posted by SpongeBob
[br]NoSUV's suggestion is that we make it an All-Bus HOV, huh? OK, think about it... All-Bus... All the time? 24/7? Hmm. Does that make sense? No? So you have to let autos in the lanes in non-rush hours... right? So everyone will just wait alone in their cars until that magic moment when they can get on the lanes.

Sponge, that's exactly what happens now - at least with the evening commute. Starting about 5:45 pm, cars and trucks pull off to the shoulder at the start of 395 HOV and put on their flashers. About 10 minutes later, cars with no one in front of them go about 15 mph to see if they can still be legal and hit the gas at exactly 6 pm.

Posted By: USA
Date Posted: 24 Aug 2005 at 5:45pm
Originally posted by NoSUV
[br]Sponge, that's exactly what happens now - at least with the evening commute. Starting about 5:45 pm, cars and trucks pull off to the shoulder at the start of 395 HOV and put on their flashers. About 10 minutes later, cars with no one in front of them go about 15 mph to see if they can still be legal and hit the gas at exactly 6 pm.

And I applaud heartily when I see the cops writing tickets to those schmucks, as I did last Friday. Damn dangerous of them, especially the way they pull out into traffic without looking. Too bad they can't just do away with the shoulders in that area so that there would be nowhere for people to stop.

As for the "15 mph at 5:55 PM" crowd, I don't see the point of doing that. Practically speaking, if it's within 5 minutes of the end of HOV most cops will give any driver the benefit of the doubt given how no two clocks ever agree--similar to how most cops will acknowledge that 5 mph over the speed limit is almost never grounds for a ticket because of the possibility of speedometer error. (Now, I know someone will say that people would just deliberately set their clocks ahead. Of course some people will, but that's not the point. The point is that to most cops it wouldn't be worth the time to argue the point.)

Posted By: MDC
Date Posted: 25 Aug 2005 at 8:22pm
I think the people pulling off to wait for HOV are idiots. If they weren't idiots, they would time their commute better, or get off at Franconia and go the the FSP to get on at 6.

Posted By: CallmeMrSlug
Date Posted: 31 Aug 2005 at 8:25am


III. Transit: The forgotten HOV

RECOMMENDATION 1: In congested urban areas, newly constructed
roadway lanes should be primarily or exclusively for public

Public transit buses are the workhorses of many urban freeway HOV
lanes, and would do even more if buses received higher priority. As
shown by Table 1, inside back cover, [Pratt, 1991 ] even on HOV
lanes that admit carpools, more than a third of the travelers are
riding by bus, and on some routes they outnumber those in carpools
and vanpools. Clearly, many HOV lanes are high performers only
because of their usefulness to transit.

The most impressive performance is on bus only lanes. The nation's
(and possibly the world's) best "people-carrying" road lane is New
Jersey's Route 495, where a morning bus-only lane carries more than
20,000 people an hour into the Lincoln Tunnel. The lane serves 30
percent of all trans-Hudson River commuters, more than the combined
total of all 12 general purpose lanes next to it [Home and Quelch].
Also notable is the Ottawa Carleton area's network of transitways,
which help OC Transpo carry 30 percent of all vehicle-based travel
and 70 percent of peak hour trips to downtown [Bonsall].

Many more bus passengers are carried on exclusive bus lanes that
are located on surface streets and are too numerous to list. Bus-
only lanes can be found in every major city and in many smaller

An advantage of buses over carpools is that they require much less
road space per passenger [Vuchic et al.]. At freeway speeds, a full
bus can carry as many people as a lane of carpools up to a mile
long. Buses are rarely so numerous as to cause a traffic Jam, a
fact that helps protect the time savings of riding in a bus-only
lane. Traffic jams are caused mostly by automobiles, which, even
when full, require a lot more road space per passenger, and thus
slow one another down.

Any discussion of HOV lanes should begin with the question, "What
is best for transit?" A common argument in favor of HOV lanes and
other facilities is that they promote use of buses. That is not
always true. Certainly preferred access for buses can speed
schedules, use equipment and drivers more efficiently, and improve
reliability and safety. But these benefits are lessened or lost
when a bus-only lane is opened to other traffic. A leading textbook
on transit facilities observes that allowing other vehicles on bus
lanes "is always harmful to transit: buses can only lose from it,
while all the benefits are accrued by their competitors, private
autos" [Vuchic, 1981, p. 260]. Yet a survey of past evaluations of
HOV lanes found in them almost no discussion of bus service
productivity, schedule adherence, or safety [Turnbull, 1991, p.

Ongoing pressure to open bus lanes to carpools could diminish or
eliminate the lanes' relative advantages for buses. Bus-only lanes
provide time and/or service improvements to riders. When an attempt
is made to transfer these benefits to carpools by opening the bus
lane to them, the bus riders' advantages are lost. When the El
Monte and Shirley Highway busways were opened to carpools, many of
the resulting carpoolers were former bus riders. Automobile trips
increased as transit ridership stagnated. The same sequence
occurred when carpool lanes began to compete with the bus lanes on
the east

6 ReThinking HOV

approach to the San Francisco-Oakland Bay
Bridge [Beroldo].

Posted By: N_or_S_bound
Date Posted: 31 Aug 2005 at 8:57am
Awesome posting! Definitely makes the case, eh? Would also get the "free loaders" to help pay for their transit, huh? I can see a time in the not too distant future where I-95/395 HOV could be bus-only again. Now, what price can buses charge when THEIR roadway is subsidized by our tax dollars AND they have exclusive use of that funded roadway?

Maybe I should look into opening a bus business. I'm sure I can do better than Martz or Quicks with their fairly regular breakdowns.


SOV because you can, HOV because you care!

Posted By: CallmeMrSlug
Date Posted: 31 Aug 2005 at 11:27pm
The point is that bus service, exclusively, is the right choice IF one really wants to solve the problem. And I mean exclusively, so NO SUV is on the regular lanes in his hybrid. The bus is the only vehicle allowed. Now if New Jersey can make this thing work, why can't Washington DC? I mean, no disrespect, but we at least 20 IQ points higher than them, lol. Forget the HOT lanes, restore it to a Bus only lane, and every fifteen minutes the Bus stops at L'Enfant, Union Station, Metro Centre and Foggy Bottom. Every twenty minutes, a different bus goes for military units, Fort Belvoir, Pentagon, and Navy Yard. Given a regular reliable bus system, and most importantly, a reliable way home, why would we need our cars? Now surely there would be tweaking for not so busy times between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, but there is NO reason this can not be done.

So yeah, those who like their own cars don't like the system. Deal with it. You either have this or HOT, and I strongly suggest this is the better alternative...

Posted By: CallmeMrSlug
Date Posted: 31 Aug 2005 at 11:40pm
Let me also add another thing, as a former Martz rider, Martz tries to do way too much. One stop, six blocks apart, is enough. Stopping every two or three blocks when you are transporting so many people makes the ride miserable for those on the latter end of the trip. In January or February, I can see the need for dropping people close. But during spring and summer, well, I think the riders would not object to walking four blocks instead of two. It should not take 40 minutes to get out of DC after getting 45 minutes to get into it from Stafford. The Martz buses should drive directly from the Pentagon to Metro Center, let those who use metro get off, and then do their circle route. I think you would find that most people would leave and their would be less drop offs along the way saving time for all.

Posted By: NoSUV
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2005 at 9:52am
Originally posted by CallmeMrSlug
[br]The point is that bus service, exclusively, is the right choice IF one really wants to solve the problem. And I mean exclusively, so NO SUV is on the regular lanes in his hybrid. The bus is the only vehicle allowed.

Good points. However, I still think we need to make a better incentive to consumers as well as the auto industry that we need to have ALL vehicles become hybrids to reduce consumption and emissions. Unfortunately, the best way to do that is through allow hybrids in the "busses only" express lanes.

Posted By: N_or_S_bound
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2005 at 10:09am
Actually, aren't gas prices the best incentive we've seen so far? When was the last time we saw such interest in alternative fuels on this massive a scale. I'd love to see the "hit" stats on the alternative fuel vehicle related sites on the web for the past month or so and see what's happened in the past week.

Buses only would have to mean buses only...that from a guy who does need his car for his daily work...guess I'll be in the mainlines watching the buses fly by.


SOV because you can, HOV because you care!

Posted By: CallmeMrSlug
Date Posted: 01 Sep 2005 at 11:09am
Maybe the bus system would work so well that the main lines would become bearable. Or, maybe, geez I hate to think it, but since we are facing this crisis, they extend the exemption for hybrids...

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