HOV Exemption Extension Up Again in Virginia ~ Hybrid Car Review
Hybrid Car Review: HOV Exemption Extension Up Again in Virginia

Monday, February 04, 2008

HOV Exemption Extension Up Again in Virginia

Virginia HOV LanesVirginia is considering extending the HOV exemption for hybrid, compressed natural gas or hydrogen cars. The HOV exemption extension bill was signed back in March, allowing solo access to owners of those alternative cars in the high occupancy vehicle lanes until July 1, 2008.

But it's that time of year again, which means you will be seeing editorials like this one: Fredericksburg.com - Hybrid exemption makes no sense here; showing up in Virginia papers.

Some people feel that hybrid cars don't deserve the special privilege, saying that one SUV with three people is worth more than one hybrid car. Others will say the HOV lane is clogged by these one person riders. More often than not, the debate degenerates into a hybrid drivers are smug festival.

Neither argument makes a lot of sense. Hybrid car owners do not clog up the HOV lanes. It's the people who are entering illegally who do more harm. Also, the HOV exemption is meant to encourage people to buy hybrid cars, cars that use less gas even after they leave the HOV lane. Yes, an SUV carrying three or more people probably gets better people per gallon during rush hour. But what about at other times of the day or on the weekend?

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Anonymous said...

An SUV burning fuel at a rate of 20 mpg to carry 3 people is no better than a hybrid carrying 2 people at 35+ mpg.

The obvious no-brainer solution is to allow HOV-2 for hybrids, and HOV-3 for all others. That would split the hybrids between the HOV and other lanes and/or encourage the hybrid drivers to transport a slug and get another car off the road altogether.

Mike said...

It's not just about the fuel economy at that moment (when they are in the HOV lane). It's about encouraging a more fuel efficient fleet of cars at all times.

Hybrid cars, while expensive, do get better fuel economy if they are designed to do so. (I have to put that caveat in there since some have been designed to increase performance, and so don't see a very good increase in fuel economy).

By encouraging people to buy fuel efficient hybrid cars, you are increasing the fuel economy of the nation.

Anonymous said...

The no brainer is that it is a HOV LANE. Not a 1 person per vehicle lane. Hybrid Ford Escapes and Lexus SUV's are NOT getting 30-40 per gallon. Use it as it was intended to get more cars off the road and more people into the ones on the road.

Mike said...

Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. A better rule would be to find the most fuel efficient cars and allow them into the lanes, irregardless of whether it's a 'hybrid' or not.

Anonymous said...

It is so awful that a rich person in a fat, tax-credited Lexus "hybrid" can cruise the HOV by him/herself while a low-wage working stiff in an old Corolla that gets better gas mileage on that same road can't. The purpose of HOV is to reduce traffic volume and should not be used as a specially privileged fast lane for rich people. I can't wait until the privilege is rescinded someday and we'll see how fast all those hybrids get dumped on the market.

Mike said...

Once again, I agree. A better rule would be to allow the most fuel efficient cars access. But that would be a short term solution and not help us all out in the long run. By encouraging people to buy a hybrid, you are helping to encourage the development of hybrid technology. Not to mention, the more hybrids sold, the sooner the cost of all hybrids will come down.

As for 'hybrids getting dumped on the market,' I don't think that would happen even if the rules changed. While HOV access is an incentive, I doubt it's the only one people are using to buy and keep theirs.

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