LA to drop free rides for green cars in carpool lanes

Los Angeles County is making major changes that could have an impact on electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen-fueled car sales in Southern California. Later this year, drivers of those so-called “sticker cars” will no longer be able to drive in carpool and express lanes without at least two occupants aboard.

The move by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro, is aimed at reducing traffic in revenue lanes so they can meet a federally mandated 45 mph average speed and to lower tolls charged based on congestion algorithms.

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In the the five years since the area’s Metro Express Lanes opened, the California DMV has seen a staggering 1,000 percent increase in the amount of stickers issued for clean air vehicles like the Nissan Leaf, Tesla MOdel S, and Chevrolet Volt. Since January of 2016, traffic during morning peak hours on northbound Interstate 10 Express Lanes has doubled.

CA 'Access OK' Clean Air Vehicle carpool lane sticker

CA ‘Access OK’ Clean Air Vehicle carpool lane sticker

It’s not all bad news for electric car drivers, though. Those with clean air stickers affixed to their bumpers will receive a 15 percent discount when they use the pay lanes. Drivers used to paying nothing to drive the length of the 110 freeway, for example, will soon pay $12.75.

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Other changes are being studied. Metro says it is considering changing the definition of a “carpool” on the I-10 Express Lanes to allow only registered buses and van pools. This change is designed to increase the use of public transportation.

According to the New York Daily News, West Covina, California, Mayor Corey Warshaw said that express buses have experienced a decrease in ridership because riders no longer see them as a faster way to travel because they are often stuck in traffic.

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