By Patrick McGreevy, September 28, 2013
Traffic is backed up along the 210 Freeway in Irwindale after an
accident earlier last month. Gov. Jerry Brown acted Saturday on a trio
of bills that affect who can use the carpool lanes and when.
SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Jerry Brown
on Saturday approved a four-year extension of carpool lane access for
electric cars and low-emission vehicles, but vetoed a bill that would
have allowed solo motorists access to those lanes on two Los Angeles
County freeways during off-peak hours.
All together, the
governor signed 20 pieces of legislation Saturday, including six bills
promoting the use of low- and zero-emission cars.
“Today, we reaffirm our commitment in California to an electric vehicle future,” Brown said in a statement.
Under one bill approved by
Brown, cars with white vehicle stickers from the state -- including
electric, hydrogen fuel cell and compressed natural-gas vehicles — will
be able to use carpool lanes until Jan. 1, 2019. Without Brown’s
signature, the access would have expired Jan. 1, 2015. Former
Assemblyman Robert Blumenfield (D-Woodland Hills) introduced AB 266.
The governor also signed a companion measure that the extends the
state's green sticker program allowing certain low-emission vehicles,
including plug-in hybrids, to drive in high-occupancy or “diamond” lanes
until 2019, or until federal authorization expires. Sen. Leland Yee
(D-San Francisco) wrote SB 286.
Related bills signed by the governor make electric-vehicle charging
stations more accessible to all drivers, develop new rules to include
charging stations in apartment buildings and non-residential structures
and provide $30 million in incentives for hybrid and zero-emission
trucks and buses.
But Brown vetoed a bill by Assemblyman Mike Gatto
(D-Los Angeles) that would have allowed lone motorists in regular cars
to use the carpool lanes on a 13-mile stretch of the 134 Freeway in Los
Angeles County during off-peak hours, the rule in much of the state.
The bill also would have allowed solo drivers to use a section of the
210 Freeway when it was not rush hour.
Brown suggested traffic in the area justifies the special rules.
“Carpool lanes are especially important in Los Angeles County to reduce
pollution and maximize use of freeways,” Brown wrote in his veto
message. “We should retain the current 24/7 carpool lane control.”