Commentary: Carpool lanes are for carpoolers

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, October 9, 2009
Let's imagine you're a carpooler. To speed travel time and to save money and wear and tear on your car, you arrange to carpool with coworkers from Elk Grove into downtown Sacramento on highway 99. Using the carpool lane you were able to shave a half hour each way off your daily commute, but lately you notice the lane is more crowded. In fact on some days it doesn't appear to go any faster than the regular lanes.

Blame the governor and the legislature. In 2004, they approved a bill that allowed solo drivers of fuel efficient hybrids to use carpool lanes. Since then, 54% of the state's carpool lanes have slipped into what officials consider congested conditions.

Predictably, giving hybrid drivers access to car pool lanes prodded drivers of other fuel efficient cars to want access, too. Laws have also been proposed to allow doctors, seniors veterans and the disabled into carpool lanes.


Giving solo drivers access to carpool lanes defeats their very purpose: to relieve rush hour congestion. The law that gave hybrid drivers access to car pool lanes is set to expire at the end of next year. Let it expire - and in the future, don't let anyone into carpool lanes who isn't carpooling. 

Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee opinion pages