Purpose

To consolidate, disseminate, and gather information concerning the 710 expansion into our San Rafael neighborhood and into our surrounding neighborhoods. If you have an item that you would like posted on this blog, please e-mail the item to Peggy Drouet at pdrouet@earthlink.net

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Should HOV access be given to all drivers during nonpeak hours?

http://www.sgvtribune.com/general-news/20150606/should-hov-access-be-given-to-all-drivers-during-nonpeak-hours

By Steve Scauzillo, June 6, 2015



When my wife and I went shopping for a car, we weren’t looking just to buy four wheels and a drive shaft. We wanted the sticker.

A green or white “clean air vehicle decal” issued by the DMV via the California Air Resources Board to owners of plug-in electric, all-electric, CNG and hydrogen cars gets you in the freeway carpool lane as a single occupant. That sticker gives you time — something no machine can do — to be with your family, fix dinner or kickback on the sofa with the cat. It grants people like me who stress out in bumper-to-bumper traffic peace of mind. In short, that sticker has more value than the car itself!
The same thinking is behind Mike Gatto’s Assembly Bill 210. It would give single-occupant drivers access to carpool lanes during off-peak hours.

Right now, carpool lane rules on most Southern California freeways are enforced 24/7. Southern California carpool lanes (High-Occupancy Vehicle or HOV lanes) must have two people, sometimes three, period, unlike in Northern California where HOV restrictions are in place only during peak hours.

The Glendale-area assemblyman’s bill would roll out a pilot project for the 134/210 freeways from North Hollywood to Glendora/San Dimas (at the 57 Freeway). Along this stretch, all drivers could ride the HOV lanes during non-peak hours. If peak is from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and then 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Gatto’s bill would allow access to all drivers from 10:01 a.m. until 2:59 p.m., then again from 7:01 p.m. until 5:59 a.m. The exact times would be set by Caltrans.

His bill would also restripe lines separating the carpool lane from the general purpose lanes from double-yellow (uncrossable) to broken white, so vehicles can go in and out at any time. Gatto said too often, carpoolers jut into the left lane too quickly, causing accidents, or move suddenly across several lanes to their exit.

From experience, I can attest he is right. The 210 Freeway eastbound’s HOV lane “exit” for the 605 Freeway comes too late. It is down-right dangerous crossing six lanes in a half-mile span.

“Even Caltrans and the traffic people testified that restriping the lanes would produce a pretty neat by-product for safety. This can reduce fatalities,” Gatto said on Friday.

The primary change allows non-ride sharers access to HOV lanes during off-peak times. The bill would help workers on nontraditional schedules, he said. Along this San Fernando Valley-San Gabriel Valley stretch of freeways many commuters work 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and would benefit from riding carpool lanes — hardly used during off-peak hours.

He’s heard from numerous employees from Disney, Dreamworks, Warner Brothers and other media outlets who ride these freeways during non-peak times and often sit in traffic when there’s an accident or road work, gazing at an open HOV lane.

“For people who drive to say a government job in Norwalk, working 9 to 5, they can pool a ride. But a lot of people can’t do that, particularly if your job lasts from 10:15 a.m. to 1:42 a.m.,” he said.

His bill also might be beneficial during game days or concerts at the Rose Bowl.

Gatto is hitting on something car dealers don’t get: Time is the more precious commodity, not the car. “If you are getting someone off the freeway faster, that is the Holy Grail,” he said.

A car going 0-60 in four seconds doesn’t do you squat in LA’s traffic. Use of an extra lane during off-peak hours, or a clean vehicle with sticker-access is what sells in gridlocked SoCal.

I just checked. The CARB can issue 70,000 clean vehicle stickers (for plug-ins such as the Chevy Volt and all-electric cars such as BMW i3 or the Kia Soul EV). As of June 1, they were at 67,831.
Either with stickers, or with Gatto’s latest bill (a previous version failed), the extra lane space makes for a sought-after commodity. Will the Legislature pass his bill and this time, will Gov. Jerry Brown sign it into law? Only if they value our most precious resource: time.