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FyreFyghtr View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25 May 2005 at 7:48am
Interesting excerpts from USA Today article about hybrids.


In Virginia and Utah, drivers of hybrids can be the sole person in the vehicle and still use the high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV) lanes usually reserved for buses and cars with two or more people.


In fact, the program has been so popular in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C., that the HOV lanes are clogged with traffic because of more hybrids.


Kirsten Nathanson, a lawyer in Arlington, Va., uses her Prius on HOV lanes. "I wouldn't say it's the only reason, but it's a main reason why I bought the car," she says.


Meanwhile, traffic that once flowed smoothly in the HOV lanes along Interstate 95 and Interstate 395 in Virginia is slowing down. Hybrids now account for 18% of the vehicles in the lanes, Morris says. During morning rush hour, the number of hybrids in the HOV lanes heading into Washington, D.C., increased to 1,700 last fall from 480 last spring, Morris said.

In April 2003, about 2,500 hybrid drivers in Virginia had registered their cars and asked for "clean fuel" license plates. By last December, 6,800 had the specialty plates.

The Virginia law allowing hybrids in HOV lanes ends in 2006, but many, including the state's Highway Patrol, are calling for it to stop sooner, Morris says. (gotta love it when even the guys in blue are on our side)

Hybrid driver Martin Wachs says he sees no reason to allow vehicles like his in commuter lanes. Wachs, director of the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California-Berkeley, says the lanes were created "to reduce the number of vehicles on the road."
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote n/a Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 May 2005 at 3:20pm
Is the purpose of HOV lanes to reduce smog? Is it to reduce fuel consumption? Or were HOVs designed to manage the traffic flow in this area? I'm glad that hybrids reduce smog and reduce fuel consumption (marginally), but they do nothing to relieve traffic congestion unless they carry more than one person. Two out of three doesn't cut it. HOV-3 means HOV-3! That should apply to hybrids the same as every other vehicle.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote NoSUV Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 May 2005 at 4:42pm
Raymond - once upon a time, the express lanes were designed and approved in most states to accomplish a dual function: reduce congestion and reduce emissions. Many if not all states have agreed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that is produced in their state from industry as well as transportation. The states with the worst levels of emissions are considering similar proposals to the VA HOV exemption to help meet their targets. Although the term in use today is HOV, it's a short cut to writing out, lanes that reduce congestion as well as help the environment (LTRCAWAHTE).
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote dickboyd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 31 May 2005 at 7:21pm
quote:
Originally posted by NoSUV
[br]Raymond - once upon a time, the express lanes were designed and approved in most states to accomplish a dual function: reduce congestion and reduce emissions. Many if not all states have agreed to reduce the amount of greenhouse gasses that is produced in their state from industry as well as transportation. The states with the worst levels of emissions are considering similar proposals to the VA HOV exemption to help meet their targets. Although the term in use today is HOV, it's a short cut to writing out, lanes that reduce congestion as well as help the environment (LTRCAWAHTE).



Acronyms and abbreviations should be pronouncable. Acronyms should be able to be used in a sentence YMCA? not a good acronym. HOT? Good acronym. As in heave HOT.

dickboyd@aol.com
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote SpongeBob Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2005 at 10:19am
I wish somebody would do a study on the net effect of high-breds on the HOV lanes. From what I have read, reducing emissions wasn't the sole goal of creating the Shirley HOV lanes in the 1970's. It was a desired outcome, the natural result of having fewer vehicles on the road. Fewer vehicles means less congestion on the roads, of course. Which in turn means fewer emissions because each car's engine is running fewer minutes per trip. So the start of the equation is fewer vehicles to begin with.

Thus, one is drawn by unconquerable logic to conclude that more vehicles on the express lanes means increased emissions. Therefore, the presence of high-breds, which overload the lanes and cause congestion, are actually producing a net INCREASE in emissions.

That is why the FHWA and VDOT are going to stop issuing new plates and let the exemption expire in 06. Or at least they say they are going to....
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote VA4ver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2005 at 12:02pm
Heard on the radio this AM that DC is trouble with the government for pollution.

So would tolls help with this issue? Don't think so. Sponge, you are right on the mark. Don't issue new plates and expire the current exemption.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Laura TG Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 01 Jun 2005 at 1:08pm
FYI Feds getting involved:

(My Two Cents:
This is a ridiculous provision. It is a typical knee-jerk reaction without thinking the problem through. Three people riding in a non-hybrid Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, or any other small or mid-size sedan will get much better gas mileage per person than one in a hybrid, which on the highway does very little better than other cars the same size. And the Save the HOV group from Virginia is dead on the mark. HOV is getting to the point where it saves less and less time because of the sheer number of hybrids out there. People will be discouraged from carpooling and we'll be back to square one with traffic. Additionally, it is unlikely that people will rush out to buy hybrids at their current price. The savings in fuel costs over the years of ownership of the vehicle won't total the price difference.)


Wednesday, June 01, 2005
SPOTLIGHT
1. AUTOS
Transportation bill spurs debate on hybrid cars in HOV lanes
Alex Kaplun, Greenwire reporter
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Congress is ready to put hybrid vehicles in the fast lane.

Both the Senate and House versions of the transportation bill include provisions allowing states to let hybrid drivers travel solo in high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes. Congressional negotiators are hoping to get the bill to President Bush by month's end.

Waiting anxiously for Bush's signature are state lawmakers in California, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia who have either passed or are considering legislation giving HOV passes to hybrid drivers. Federal regulations have blocked implementation of those laws, in most cases, because HOV lanes were built with federal gasoline taxes.

Supporters of the proposal say it would provide a significant incentive for consumers to buy hybrids, which would help clean the air and lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil. But others worry that the provision will clog the fast lane with solo commuters and worsen gridlock.

Few doubt the provision will play a role in spurring hybrid sales. David Friedman, an automotive policy expert with the Union of Concerned Scientist (UCS), said that in Northern Virginia -- where solo hybrid drivers already travel in HOV lanes -- many consumers report that the state's policy was a "significant incentive" in their decision to purchase a hybrid. The federal government has not taken action against Virginia's HOV policy, which began in 2000, while Congress has been debating its own HOV provision.

"The problem on the negative side of it is that you can choke your HOV lanes pretty quickly," Friedman said. "You're definitely encouraging more people to buy hybrids but are you destroying the HOV lanes in the process."

Friedman's group, which has typically lobbied for increased incentives for hybrid technology, has taken no position on the HOV debate.

Opponents of the transportation bill provision say Northern Virginia's HOV lanes are almost as congested as regular roadways as an example of how such a policy essentially wipes out the reason that HOV lanes were created in the first place.

Scott Hirons, director of the Virginia-based Committee to Save HOV, said the state's policy on hybrids -- which is set to expire next year -- is encouraging commuters to travel alone and ultimately use more gasoline and create more air pollution. "People who are carpooling are going to be discouraged for using carpools, which defeats the purpose of HOV lanes and what the hybrids are trying to do," he said.

Hybrid makers want tax incentives for buyers
While Northern Virginia is one of the largest markets in the country for hybrid vehicles, which some analysts credit at least in part to the HOV policy, hybrid technology did not take off there until gas prices soared to more than $2 per gallon last year.

Many consumer groups say the primary motivation for hybrid buyers are gas savings and the novelty factor. "Most of the people buying hybrids are motivated by a sense of wanting to improve the rate of fuel consumption," said Brian Wynn, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA).

EDTA and most other hybrid-backers have lobbied Congress to implement tax incentives that would make the price of hybrids comparable to regular vehicles.

While some type of law allowing hybrids in HOV lanes is virtually certain to appear in the final version of the transportation bill, the two chambers must still reconcile slight differences in the policy.

The House version, which has been primarily pushed by California lawmakers, allows any hybrid vehicles that achieve an average fuel economy of 45 miles per gallon to travel in HOV lanes. The language matches the policy passed by the California Legislature last year.

But automakers have complained that such a policy will hurt U.S. manufacturers because such a high fuel economy number is currently achieved by only a couple of Japanese-made vehicles.

The Senate version of the bill contains language -- inserted by Sen. Jim Talent (R-Mo.) -- that allows hybrids in HOV lanes as long as they operate at a fuel economy that is 25 percent more efficient than their non-hybrid counterpart. Such a policy would allow vehicles such as the Ford Escape Hybrid, which is produced in Missouri, into HOV lanes.

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