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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Fri, Oct 14, 2011

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Did kicking hybrids from carpool lanes slow everyone down? Just when you think all is back to normal with those single-occupant hybrids out of the carpool lane, it turns out we might want ‘em back in. In June of this year, LA Car warned of a Hybrid Carmageddon that would envelop California, once the single-occupant HOV lane access stickers expired on the 85,000 hybrid vehicle: “Surprisingly little has been said about the Hybrid Carmageddon that’s about to hit the freeways all over California in a matter of days. That’s when 85,000 hybrid vehicles get kicked out of the carpool lanes… On July 1st, the yellow single occupant hybrid HOV lane stickers expire. …Since July 2nd is the start of a long weekend, the effect of the expiration will not be felt until Tuesday, July 5th. That’s when up to 85,000 additional cars get introduced into the non-carpool lanes of California. …It will get worse when the summer is over, and everyone goes back to work and school. That’s when Super Hybrid Carmageddon arrives.” – LA Car, June 30, 2011. Well, the summer is over, everyone is back to work and school—and a new UC Berkeley study finds that banishing those hybrid drivers from the carpool lanes has made traffic slower for everyone. As an example, they cite a four-mile stretch of carpool lane on Interstate 880 in Hayward, which has seen a 15 percent reduction in speed since single-occupant hybrids were expelled on July 1, 2011. “Surely, fairness was restored over the summer when the interlopers lost their HOV rights; the real carpoolers have seen their speeds increase, right? Wrong,” reports Ronald D. White of the Los Angeles Times. “Researchers at UC Berkeley's Institute of Transportation Studies said they used traffic-flow theories and six months of data from roadway sensors measuring speed and congestion along all freeway carpool lanes in the San Francisco Bay Area to reach their conclusions.” White reports that the authors of the study found that the additional vehicles in the regular traffic lanes slowed speeds substantially, and that slower traffic made it more difficult for the carpool drivers to move in and out of the HOV lanes, slowing them down as well. "Our results show that everybody is worse off with the program's ending," said Michael Cassidy, a UC Berkeley professor of civil and environmental engineering, and co-author of the study. "Drivers of low-emission vehicles are worse off, drivers in the regular lanes are worse off, and drivers in the carpool lanes are worse off. Nobody wins." The study was co-authored by Kitae Jang, a doctoral student in civil and environmental engineering. For more information on the study, click here

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