Easy Sustainability Answers

Do hybrid owners deserve access to carpool lanes and other perks?

Adriene Hill Jul 12, 2010

Easy Answer: California says no.

In years past, California issued yellow stickers to about 85,000 hybrid owners allowing their solo drivers to use the state’s carpool lanes (also known as HOV or High Occupancy Vehicle lanes). The state hasn’t issued new stickers since 2007 when it reached its maximum. But those 85,000 hybrid drivers have been cruising along in the state’s carpool lanes ever since.

No more.

The perk is scheduled to end on January 1st. Here’s the legislation.

People who drive electric cars and cars that use natural gas will get to continue to use the lanes. All you Tesla drivers can relax.

The reasoning:

“As beneficial as hybrids are, by virtue of their reduced consumption of gasoline, to the state’s environment and economy, it is difficult to articulate a compelling rationale for allowing their operation in HOV lanes for an additional five years. The initial impetus for granting this privilege was to incentivize their purchase. The 85,000 hybrids that are
currently stickered have indeed been purchased. As no additional stickers are available for issue, HOV lane access is no longer an incentive to purchase a new hybrid. And as the automotive industry adjusts its mix of models to meet consumer demand for higher mileage vehicles, hybrids are capturing an increasing share of the market without any need for incentives. Extending the sunset date of the program therefore simply continues to reward motorists for purchase choices they made several years ago while making more difficult the task of reducing congestion in HOV lanes.”

Navigating California’s highways a little faster isn’t the only bonus hybrid owners have had to wave goodbye to.

Last year, the city of Los Angeles dumped free parking for Prius drivers.

What do you think? Should hybrid drivers still get perks?

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