Another DOT Screw Up!

Live near a freeway, or use any, ever, anywhere across the nation?

HOV lanes and access ramps are coming to your town/city/state.

Except they DON'T WORK.

● HOV lanes cause MORE POLLUTION
● HOV access ramps DELAY STREET TRAFFIC accommodating lights on overpasses
● HOV access ramps INCREASE CRIME, POLLUTION, NOISE, CONGESTION AND ACCIDENTS to residential neighborhoods

Why should you care about HOV lanes?
  1. Your half hour ride to work will increase to an hour or more while you sit in traffic jammed into the remaining regular lanes the 99% of us drive in.
  2. State and federal taxes are building HOV lanes instead of investing our tax dollars in improving our public transportation system, schools and other worthy projects.
  3. HOV lanes are being converted to TOLL lanes across the country, serving only those that can pay to avoid the excessive traffic the rest of us must sit in caused by losing a freeway lane to HOV.

High Occupancy Lanes (HOV) were originally meant to encourage carpooling and use of public transportation, reduce congestion and pollution. Nice idea, but most of us can't, won't, or don't carpool. Why?
● In most major metropolitan areas across this country, we work in the city and live in the suburbs, too far to bike to work.
● Public transportation is notoriously unreliable and often doesn’t take us where we need to go.
● We have a fierce sense of independence in the U.S., in love with our cars and the 'freedom' they provide.

Clearly, we're not likely to start carpooling en-mass anytime soon.

HOV lanes have been around for 20 years now, yet 82% of the suburban workforce are still solo drivers, virtually the same percentage before HOV lanes.

Studies of HOV lane effectiveness are few and far between. Most are based on projections of future use, or deemed successful in their operations without accounting for their effect on the rest of the freeway, or on the communities with HOV access ramps added to suburban overpasses. Touted stats by Cal Trans and other state transportation agencies of increased speeds and vehicle throughput in the HOV lanes do NOT account for the overall increase in traffic congestion and delayed throughput of every other lane on the freeway where HOV lanes exist. Obvious to even the simplest of minds, shoving most freeway traffic into fewer or narrower lanes to accommodate HOV lanes will, and does increase traffic congestion, accidents and air pollution.

So why is the U.S. government throwing federal stimulus funds at your state department of transportation, cities and municipalities to build HOV lanes through your community?

'Shovel ready' HOV projects employ lots of people. Implementing HOV lanes cost hundreds of millions but support many jobs, regardless if workers are building yet another bridge to nowhere.

For their cut of the stimulus pie, CalTrans and their like, and state and local governments are willfully blind to the effects of HOV lanes on overall traffic congestion and pollution. They do few verifiable studies, pass on foundation-less claims to the press why this or that HOV lane isn't being utilized or is causing major traffic delays and a massive influx of complaints from drivers. Lazy reporters pass on the PR from CalTrans that ultimately supports more HOV lane implementation.

Except HOV lanes don't work—not for their intended use, anyway.

Beyond garnering stimulus funds, from S.F. Bay Area to Atlanta, failed HOV lanes are being converted into Express lanes, or HOT lanes—toll lanes for solo drivers of any type of vehicle (deemed Lexus Lanes) willing and able to pay for the privilege of bypassing the traffic jams created by the HOV lane.

Extortion 101.

Anyone who drives an HOV/HOT lane corridors not willing to pay sometimes $5 or more for a few unobstructed miles bear witness to the Express lane's failure to ease congestion while sitting in the traffic the rarely utilized lanes create. City and state [transportation] agencies looking to fill their dwindling coffers promote HOT lanes being added to freeways nationwide now, ignoring legitimate studies that prove narrowing or omitting regular lanes on freeways to accommodate HOV/HOT lanes hurts all but a handful of drivers. Government officials don't take the time to research for facts. They get their information from invested stakeholders, and the media.

Except hardly anyone is doing the research, and reporting facts these days.

The recent New York Times HOV article doesn't bother to present the full picture. The journalist regurgitates meaningless stats on lane speeds in the HOV/HOT lanes only. He briefly mentions Howard Rodgers, joe-ordinary guy who sits in gridlock daily since the HOT lane was put in on the freeway he commutes to work. The reporter doesn't mention the bipartisan Berkeley study, or any legitimate report or study challenging the effectiveness of HOV/HOT lanes in reducing traffic congestion and pollution overall. Instead he goes on to quote Ellen Hanak, senior policy fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California for a third of his article, clearly in support of charging drivers. Instead of returning the HOV lane to a regular freeway lane for all to use, Ms. Hanak says “put a price on the availability of a faster lane.’ ”

Freeways will cease to be free ways in the U.S., usable for only those that can afford their price.

We can stop this idiocy, divert our local tax dollars to worthy projects that actually provide public benefits to many. Make your voices heard and protest the implementation of HOV/HOT lanes in your community! Only with thousands of voices can we motivate our civic leaders to do what is best for the communities they represent and reject HOV/HOT models.

We can. We are the internet!


J. Cafesin said...

If HOT lanes are, in fact, fully utilized, they would lose their effectiveness with the increased traffic slowing travel speeds.

Forcing most of traffic into fewer or more narrow lanes to accommodate HOV/HOT lanes seems a no-brainer as a bad idea for the OVERALL flow of traffic, and therefore pollution output. A significant increase in the percentage of those willing to pay to use the HOT lanes, increases the number of vehicles in that one lane and will no doubt lead to congestion in HOT lane as well.

It would be better to open as many lanes as possible to all traffic, or figure out a real solution to the increasing traffic congestion problem then sticking with the flawed HOV/HOT model.

Anonymous said...

The paucity of studies concerning the effectiveness of HOV/HOT lanes is amazing. Here is an easy issue to stop the waste of taxpayer money, or at least, it would seem so ...