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  1. #11
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    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    Hy folks, all of you have valid points. I am a Hybrid owner and if the last comment is correct, then the government is at fault for allowing these vehicle to falsely advertise low emissions and cleaner air. Or maybe your stats are wrong. I think that this issue should have been avoided all along if the HOV incentive had not been offered at first. This is like giving candy to a youngster. Give candy to a kid, and when he starts to enjoy it and other kids begin to like it, just simply take it away. As a Hybrid owner I enjoy very much the HOV privilege. When it goes away; " oh well we'll get on the slug line". I just hope that there is enough slugs on line. Perhaps someone will think between now and then to make it: Hybrid HOV2, all others HOV3. You tell me, I'm flexible.

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  3. #12
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    Hi Tom, you said:

    "Even though I have a hybrid vehicle that would qualify for HOV lane use, I think it's stupid to allow hybrids in HOV lanes. Congestion doesn't get any better by me moving into the HOV lane from the regular lanes--it's still a car on the road. Congestion only improves by reducing the number of vehicles.

    Virginia is the only state where you can go solo in the HOV lane with a hybrid, and yet the demand nationwide for hybrids is clearly there. So you don't need the HOV incentive--people are already on waiting lists just to get their hybrids."

    Freeways are transport pipes. Like any transport pipe, you can increase the throughput by adding bandwidth, or increasing the operating speed. Letting more vehicles use the HOV lane means that you're more fully utilizing the available bandwidth, thus increasing throughput. A vehicle that's idling in gridlock, or rubber banding between 20 and 35mph puts out WAY more emissions than traffic that's able to hold steady speeds of 40+mph. Allowing hybrids to use the HOV lane will both improve traffic and reduce emissions.

    For your second point, you should know that Arizona lets you use the HOV lane if you have a flexible fuel vehicle. Sounds good at first, but the way it works is that one of our state congressmen introduced a bill that gives you a $10,000 tax credit if you buy a vehicle that can use an alternative fuel such as propane or natural gas. Those vehicles are typically $2-3k more expensive than standard models.

    Guess what happened? He bought three, and all his family members them too - and they happened to be full size trucks, suburbans, and other vehicles that get 14mpg and less. The kicker? They never run on any of those alternative fuels as well. Anyway, other people got wind of this and suddenly there were something like 30,000 orders for alternative fuel vehicles in Arizona which would cost the state $300 million in tax revenue. We the tax payers got shafted for something like $25 million before they could repeal the law.

    The guy that introduced this bill was quickly kicked out of office, but the damage was still done. Every day I drive home from work and see giant SUV's getting 10-14mpg being driven by some guy yaking on his cel phone driving alone in the HOV lane. Changing the law to ban flex fuel vehicles and instead restrict it to vehicles that have a combined EPA mileage of at least 40mpg or something would make a lot more sense because the system is already broken and being exploited.

  4. #13
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    Photosmith wrote: "Freeways are transport pipes. Like any transport pipe, you can increase the throughput by adding bandwidth, or increasing the operating speed. "

    Nice sounding analogy, but it doesn't hold up in the real world because:
    a) We can't improve throughput by simply increasing speed. Why? It's called congestion (too many vehicles on a given road). If we could all just speed up, we wouldn't be talking about this, but we are since the roads can't handle the traffic volume (at a speed we deem acceptable).
    b) For bandwidth, we have to increase a road's capacity by adding more lanes or by reducing the number of vehicles to the capacity of the existing road. You do this by getting as many of those drivers of single-occupant vehciles to group together, thereby taking vehicles off the road. If a highway is so congested that it has a HOV lane, then moving a single occupant hybrids from the main-line to the HOV will do nothing to help the main line flow, and will congest the HOV lane. Then you remove the incentive on which the HOV lane provides (i.e. a quicker commute) and discourage further your goal of improving congestion by reducing the number of vehicles.

    Photosmart also wrote:
    "A vehicle that's idling in gridlock, or rubber banding between 20 and 35mph puts out WAY more emissions than traffic that's able to hold steady speeds of 40+mph. Allowing hybrids to use the HOV lane will both improve traffic and reduce emissions."

    Remember, the main goal is reducing congestion. Improved emissions (from fewer vehicles) is a nice benefit, but that has not been the driver for HOV lanes.

    And:
    "Every day I drive home from work and see giant SUV's getting 10-14mpg being driven by some guy yaking on his cel phone driving alone in the HOV lane."

    If they guy had a hybrid SUV, would you then not be peeved? He'd still be a single-occupant vehicle in the HOV lane adding to your congestion. Cleaner emissions? Sure, but degrading your commute in the HOV lane.

    And lastly:
    "Changing the law to ban flex fuel vehicles and instead restrict it to vehicles that have a combined EPA mileage of at least 40mpg or something would make a lot more sense because the system is already broken and being exploited."

    It doesn't matter if that single-occupant vehicle is flex fuel, hybrid, plain-old-gas, hydrogen, electric or whatever. It's still on the road and stressing the capacity of a given road. Increase the number of passengers that would otherwise being driving alone, and then you improve your congestion problem. Of course, unless you expand or build new roads.

    As for your Arizona example regarding the flex-fuel fiasco, it's good to know California isn't that only state that does nutty things.


  5. #14
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    HOV lanes started during the oil crises of the 70's, a way to encourage people to reduce their use of fuel. So a hybrid driving on an HOV lane is sort-of using it for the intended purpose . OTOH, it is also taking up space that is a reward for people carpooling. And carpooling is far more economical than just buying a Prius or Civic to get to work faster.

    "Alternative fuel vehicles" is a misnomer. A Prius is not an alternative fuel vehicle ,it runs on gas, which is a technology about 140 years old. Propane is an alternative fuel for a car, but they cannot use HOV lanes because propane powered cars normally also have a gas tank, and look identical to regular cars. Biodiesel powered cars cannot run on HOV lanes and get deductions, because again, they can run on regular diesel.

    Personally, I think a Ford Escape running on an HOV lane, while a Golf TDI burning zero petroleum is not allowed, is ridiculous, but I can fully understand the rationale behind it. The TDI gets much better gas mileage, and as I said before, can run on a petroleum free fuel. I'm not knocking the Escape for what it does ,but it's not necessarily a "fuel efficient" vehicle, it depends on what you are using it for. In certain contexts, that new diesel Doddge Ram with the electric starter motor could be a very fuel-efficient solution, even though it only gets about 15 miles per gallon.

    So, in short, I think hybrid cars, electric cars, diesel cars, etc. should not be allowed on HOV lanes without multiple passengers. Otherwise it erodes the reward for ordinary people choosing to use the HOV lane as intended- car pooling.

  6. #15
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    "So, in short, I think hybrid cars, electric cars, diesel cars, etc. should not be allowed on HOV lanes without multiple passengers. Otherwise it erodes the reward for ordinary people choosing to use the HOV lane as intended- car pooling."

    Well said Magnulus.

    Interesting note, Congress just passed a new highway spending bill which includes the approval for states to allow hybrids in HOV lanes (provided they get 45 mpg or better).
    It's bill number H.R. 3, check it out at www.house.gov/transportation. See Section 1208 of the bill.

  7. #16
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    Tom: The highway bill also has an emissions rating that has to be met along with the 45 MPG. This could prevent a lot of the hybrids from getting this exemption because of the fuel sold in VA isn't as clean as in CA making emissions worse; and the version of some hybrids sold here aren't very clean no matter what type of gas is used.

  8. #17
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    Good point.

    The minimum standard in the legislation is ILEV (Inherently Low Emission vehicle).

    I guess it depends on how a particular hybrid vehicle is equipped. In California, I think they are all at least ULEV (Ultra Low Emission vehicle) or AT-PZEV (Advanced Technology-Partial Zero Emission vehicle), either of which would exceed the minimum emission requirement.


  9. #18
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    Tom Said:

    "Virginia is the only state where you can go solo in the HOV lane with a hybrid, and yet the demand nationwide for hybrids is clearly there. So you don't need the HOV incentive--people are already on waiting lists just to get their hybrids. "

    I would have never bought my hybrid if it wasn't for the HOV incentive. If they take it away, I will put it up for sale and buy a TDI VW or some other beater.

    The good gas mileage and the atonement for my other gas sucking vehicles are just nice byproducts.

    As far as mass transit, we have a commuter train. I live at the far end in Broad Run and took it all the way to Union Station in DC (about 45 miles by car). It took me 1:50 door to desk because you have to leave 25 min before the train's scheduled time. The train is slow (45mph) and cramped. I bought the car and I can do 70 for portions of my commute. It now takes me about 1:15. Being away from all of the sullen faced commuters on the train has also been a big benefit and has improved my outlook about work.

    If they took away my HOV exemption, I would still drive, but probably not the hybrid.

  10. #19
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    "I would have never bought my hybrid if it wasn't for the HOV incentive. If they take it away, I will put it up for sale and buy a TDI VW or some other beater.

    The good gas mileage and the atonement for my other gas sucking vehicles are just nice byproducts."

    Fair enough, we all have our own reasons.

    But there is no denying that there already is great demand for hybrids without the HOV exemption. Manufacturers are coming out with more hybrid models, increasing production of existing models, and there are waiting lists just to get them. All these buyers don't live in Virgina, so apparently lots of people don't need the HOV incentive to buy a hybrid.

    But I have no problem with people who buy for the HOV use.

  11. #20
    Guest

    Hybrid HOV Waiver in Virginia

    Tom: ULEV and AT-PZEV aren't as clean as ILEV. There currently are no gasoline powered cars that meet ILEV. Only CNGs and pure electrics. But I don't think ILEV is the standard in the legislation. I think the emissions level can be set by rule making by the Feds. The legislation refers to to many parts of the code and I don't want to spend the time reading it all.

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