CAR-POOL LANE RAGE; CRITICS CLAIM THEY'RE A WASTE OF PAVEMENT, BUT MORE ARE ON THE WAY.Byline: Steve Carney Staff Writer
While Caltrans' numbers show car-pool lanes in the San Fernando Valley San Fernando Valley
Valley, southern California, U.S. Northwest of central Los Angeles, the valley is bounded by the San Gabriel, Santa Susana, and Santa Monica mountains and the Simi Hills. are carrying more people with fewer cars than regular lanes, opposition remains strong, with one assemblyman proposing an ``HOV Holiday.''
Yet with construction of a high-occupancy-vehicle lane through the Sepulveda Pass Sepulveda Pass (el. 1130 ft. / 334 m.) is a mountain pass through the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles, California. It is often called Poop-Out Pass, a phrase once used by now-deceased traffic reporter Bill Keene. on the 405 Freeway, Caltrans is forging ahead with its plan to create a necklace of diamond lanes circling Los Angeles Los Angeles (lôs ăn`jələs, lŏs, ăn`jəlēz'), city (1990 pop. 3,485,398), seat of Los Angeles co., S Calif.; inc. 1850. .
Critics of car-pool lanes, on the other hand, see a choker.
Assemblyman Tom McClintock Thomas Miller "Tom" McClintock (born July 10, 1956 in White Plains, New York) is a California State Senator. He ran for Governor of California in the 2003 California recall election of Gray Davis and finished third out of 135 candidates with 13.5% of the overall vote. , R-Granada Hills, said the easiest way to reduce gridlock Gridlock
A government, business or institution's inability to function at a normal level due either to complex or conflicting procedures within the administrative framework or to impending change in the business. on freeways is to ``sandblast sandblast, stream of sand or other abrasive particles driven by a jet of compressed air or water or by centrifugal force against a surface to clean or abrade it. the diamond off the pavement.
``The whole stated reason for diamond lanes is to increase car pooling, and it doesn't,'' he said. ``All they're doing is rearranging existing traffic.''
He has sponsored AB 44 in the Assembly Transportation Committee that would order a ``Diamond Lane Holiday'' on all freeways in the state pending an engineering study to justify their usefulness. That would indefinitely open the HOV lanes to all traffic.
Supporters of car-pool lanes say McClintock is misguided.
``By and large, in L.A. County the HOV system is a great success,'' said Deborah Redman, a senior transportation planner with the Southern California Southern California, also colloquially known as SoCal, is the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. Centered on the cities of Los Angeles and San Diego, Southern California is home to nearly 24 million people and is the nation's second most populated region, Association of Governments, which tries to foster ride-sharing through its 1-800-COMMUTE hot line.
``It's reducing overall congestion The condition of a network when there is not enough bandwidth to support the current traffic load.
congestion - When the offered load of a data communication path exceeds the capacity. , and maintaining at least one opportunity for people to move at normal speeds - if they car pool,'' she said. ``It's ironic - because they work, they look empty.''
HOV lanes faster
Where there are car-pool lanes, they seem to be working, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. Caltrans figures.
An HOV lane on the 170 Freeway carries about the same number of people as a regular lane during the evening commute - 1,530 people per hour at Sherman Way compared to 1,494. But they do it in half as many cars - 641 to 1,243 - zipping along in their unclogged lane.
Morning car poolers on the 405 Freeway aren't quite so lucky - the southbound HOV lane at Burbank Boulevard has about the same number of vehicles as the regular lanes - 1,128 per hour compared to 1,245. But those cars are carrying twice as many people - 2,665 compared to 1,350.
And Dawn Helou, senior traffic engineer with Caltrans, said that's exactly what the HOV is supposed to do - carry more people in fewer cars.
``We have a limited capacity here. We have to focus on moving people,'' she said, saying HOV critics ``are focused on moving vehicles.''
Still, car-pool lanes draw the ire of people from Southern California to New Jersey, which has eliminated some car-pool lanes. In Northern California Northern California, sometimes referred to as NorCal, is the northern portion of the U.S. state of California. The region contains the San Francisco Bay Area, the state capital, Sacramento; as well as the substantial natural beauty of the redwood forests, the northern , HOV lanes have been opened to all commuters during certain hours.
There are those who say they're a waste of pavement and should be opened to all traffic. Others say they're under-used and should be enhanced with peak-hour tolls and express commuter buses.
McClintock contends that much traffic in the diamond lanes consists of parents taking their children to school, or couples traveling together, or other groups that would be traveling together anyway - car-pool lanes or no.
The percentage of Southern California commuters car pooling dropped from 15.6 percent to 14.3 percent from 1996 to 1998, according to the biannual bi·an·nu·al
1. Happening twice each year; semiannual.
2. Occurring every two years; biennial.
bi·an State of the Commute report from the Southern California Association of Governments. But the 1998 figure is still an increase over the 13.1 percent in 1991.
Opening car-pool lanes would simply add more cars to the road, critics say.
``It's going to fill up instantly. There's more demand than that lane can possibly handle,'' argued Kenneth Green, director of the environmental program at the L.A.-based Reason Public Policy Institute, a non-profit think tank that examines transportation and other issues.
``That seems to be a waste of a good opportunity,'' he said.
The Reason Institute advocates turning the HOV lanes into HOT - high-occupancy toll A high-occupancy toll (HOT) is a toll enacted on single-occupant vehicles who wish to use lanes or entire roads that are designated for the use of high-occupancy vehicles (HOVs, also known as carpools). - lanes. Those would allow solo drivers to join the car poolers and buses in the HOV lanes, for a fee that would increase during peak hours peak hours npl, peak period
n → horas fpl punta
peak hours peak npl → heures fpl d'affluence or de pointe
. That would allow drivers on urgent trips to get there quicker, and generate money that could be used for other transportation solutions.
Changing HOV lanes to mixed-flow lanes, available for all traffic, would be tantamount to adding an entire new lane to the freeway, proponents say.
Helou, senior traffic engineer with Caltrans, said the addition of an extra lane to the 101 Freeway in 1992 didn't help Valley congestion. The extra lane was originally slated to be HOV, until local opposition made it a mixed-flow lane.
``The congestion is worse today than when we had four lanes. There's no incentive to rideshare,'' she said. ``It promoted growth and it promoted the wrong kind of growth.''
It now carries legions of solo drivers commuting from sprawling suburbs in the West Valley and beyond, she said.
Diamond lanes are a sometime thing in the San Francisco Bay Area “Bay Area” redirects here. For other uses, see Bay Area (disambiguation).
The San Francisco Bay Area, colloquially known as the Bay Area or The Bay , where the car-pool restrictions are enforced only during rush hours, said Greg Bayol, Caltrans public affairs Those public information, command information, and community relations activities directed toward both the external and internal publics with interest in the Department of Defense. Also called PA. See also command information; community relations; public information. director for the area.
``We have a different philosophy'' from the agency's L.A. office, he said. ``Our traffic operates differently.''
For example, the Bay Area converted an HOV lane to mixed-flow. The 580 Freeway going through Richmond didn't have enough congestion to make a car-pool lane worthwhile, Bayol said.
McClintock decried HOV lanes as part of a failed policy designed ``to tell people how they'll get to work in the morning.'' He said the majority of motorists have already made their choice, opting for the convenience of driving their own cars.
And rather than the ``social engineering'' of imposing car-pool lanes on drivers, he pointed to the example of New Jersey, which eliminated car-pool lanes at the behest of drivers and lawmakers there.
In November 1998, New Jersey converted HOV lanes on Interstates 80 and 287 into regular traffic lanes, after getting assurances from the federal government the state wouldn't have to repay federal money used to build them.
The lanes moved traffic within sprawling suburban areas with no centralized business districts, said John Dourgarian John Dourgarian was a Public Information Officer from 1995 to 2002 with the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
He was perhaps the most extensively quoted Public Information Officer in the New York Metropolitan Area, a region that is the busiest and most heavily , spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) maintains the State Highway system in New Jersey. It is headed by the Commissioner of Transportation. The present Commissioner is Kris Kolluri, Esq, who was sworn into office as Commissioner on March 13, 2006. . ``It was difficult for people to car pool. They were coming from all over and going to different work places.''
Alone, HOV not enough
The agency studied the 30 miles of lanes on the two interstates and found they didn't meet expectations for creating new car pools, carrying enough people or reducing congestion. And drivers hated them - at times up to 50 percent of the lanes' users were solo drivers flouting the law.
After studying the usefulness of the 30 miles of lanes, considering future congestion and listening to the clamor from motorists worried about safety and convenience, New Jersey finally decided to decommission de·com·mis·sion
tr.v. de·com·mis·sioned, de·com·mis·sion·ing, de·com·mis·sions
To withdraw (a ship, for example) from active service. the HOV lanes.
But HOV lanes haven't been cast out of the Garden State entirely. They're still popular on the New Jersey Turnpike
New York City
City (pop., 2000: 8,008,278), southeastern New York, at the mouth of the Hudson River. The largest city in the U.S. , and a lane going into the Lincoln Tunnel reserved for commuters in express buses and van pools is always packed, he said.
``There are thousands of buses going to Manhattan every day,'' Dourgarian said. ``Every morning it's like a train of buses going in, and they're all filled to capacity.''
That's the New Jersey example cited by HOV advocates, who say Los Angeles also needs a system of public and private buses and jitneys to share the HOV lanes and carry commuters.
``Car-pool lanes by themselves don't work. We need other incentives,'' said Gloria Ohland, spokeswoman for the Surface Transportation Policy Project, a non-profit consortium of groups studying traffic and sprawl issues.
``It would have been better to invest in public transit than car-pool lanes. That said, I think the worst possibleI thing would be to turn car-pool lanes into mixed-flow lanes,'' she said. ``Ultimately the problem is we have too many cars, too much air pollution and the more room we make on the road for single-occupancy vehicles, the worse off we'll be.''
Map: L.A. County HOV system status