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Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

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  • Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

    Hey gang,

    As we know there is lots of buzz over in the California forum here at CNGchat.com as to the 85,000 gasoline hybrids getting kicked out of the HOV lanes on July 1st with dedicated CNG vehicles staying in. Here in Utah we have some changes coming this week as well. For a while now the diamond lane on I-15 has gone to a HOV & toll system. If you want to drive solo you can set up an account and install a device to get billed for lane usage. Or, you can get one of the CNG, LPG and certain qualified hybrid vehicles and ride with no toll as well.

    From July 1st here is what will change in Utah:
    1. The Clean Air license plate (aka the "C" plate) will no longer be issued. The plate will no longer allow free single-occupant access to the HOV/toll lanes.
    2. In its place is a new decal which is placed on the windshield with an RFID tag readable by the new HOV/HOT lane readers.
    3. Not everyone who has a C plate will get the decals. UDOT has gone through the database of vehicles with the C plate and determined which qualify under the Federal standards for HOV lane access. For the natural gas vehicle community what is significant is that the Federal standard is Inherently Low Emissions Vehicle ("ILEV") which requires, among other emissions requirements, that the vehicle have a closed and pressurized alternative fuel system. Since gasoline is not a closed fuel system (evaporative emissions happen) this means that bi-fuel vehicles do not qualify. Note that Utah was the only state that I know of which inadvertently allowed single-occupant HOV lane access for bi-fuel vehicles... this was corrected by the legislature to get Utah in line with Federal requirements.

    I got my first decal today in the mail for my wife's Civic GX. Our dedicated NautralDrive CNG Impala meets ILEV so with some correspondence with UDOT (including sending the EPA certificate of conformity and a photo of the underhood vehicle emission control information sticker) I was able to qualify my fuel conversion for the decal as well. Our IMPCO bi-fuel Tahoe does not qualify.

    UDOT has information on its web site regarding the program here:
    udot.utah.gov/cdecals

  • #2
    Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

    My concern is that they will disallow older GX models, as they did with the C plate. When I tried to obtain the C plate for a 2000 GX, they denied me saying that it wasn't on their list and that only 2003 or newer GX models were on their list. This despite the fact that the 2000 GX has dedicated CNG and is every bit as much an ILEV as a 2005 GX. Do you have any suggestions for how to go about convincing UDOT to issue a decal for an older GX?

    Edit: I just spoke with Pam at UDOT about the HOV lane and the older GX models. She said that while the draft list from the EPA only shows 2003 and newer vehicles (across the board, not just for the GX), they have added the 2001 and 2002 GX to the list. I assume this is because those two years have the same design as the 2003 vehicle that is on the list. She said that the 2000 and older vehicles are not on the EPA's list, and will not be issued decals.

    This means that drivers of older cars do not receive the benefit, even if their cars have the same or better emission profiles than other cars on the EPA list. The problem seems to be that the EPA makes new guidelines, but they only apply those guidelines to vehicles that come out after the guideline is created. They don't retroactively apply those guidelines to older vehicles that might qualify if they did. So while 2000 Civic GX almost certainly would have met the 2003 guideline, it was never examined with respect to those guidelines. So when they decide that the prior guidelines weren't strict enough, they disqualify all vehicles that were certified under those guidelines, never mind that many of those vehicles meet the newer guidelines. I know it's not practical to go back and re-test every vehicle, but couldn't they use the data collected from earlier testing to see that the vehicles meet the newer standards?

    I'm trying to contact the EPA to get some questions answered. I really don't want to have to pay for some super-expensive testing that I'd have to drive my car out-of-state to do (since there are apparently no facilities in Utah). I'm not even sure that they'd allow it. Pam (from UDOT) said that the Certificates of Conformity are for converted vehicles, and she's not sure if a such a certificate could be granted for a factory CNG vehicle.
    Last edited by jk1joel; 06-30-2011, 09:49 AM.

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    • #3
      Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

      Has anyone heard if the C Plate will still allow free parking in SLC? How about the C decal?
      www.CNGUtah.com

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      • #4
        Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

        Still get free parking, just not HOV lane access. See following link for more info:

        http://www.udot.utah.gov/main/f?p=100g:0:::1:T,V:2280

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        • #5
          Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

          The older GX are good enough for California (http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/carpool/carpool.htm) so they should be so for Utah. I just got White stickers for a 1995 Dodge Caravan (CNG).

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          • #6
            Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

            The reality is this simple.... the guidelines did not change they are merely correcting an oversight here in Utah. They were never supposed to issue any HOV C plates to anything older than 2003 period and for at least a couple of years they were available for many not on the " EPA approved " list because a certain bureaucrat did not read the regs properly.

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            • #7
              Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

              The reality is stupid (in the case of the Civic GX). Why should it matter if a car is a 2000 and not a 2003? It has the same emission profile, and should receive the same benefit in order to provide the same incentive. The bureaucrats should issue certificates for Tier I vehicles that conform to the Tier II standards. What happens when they switch to Tier III? If I buy a Tier II-compliant 2011 Civic GX, then Tier III comes out next year and only certifies 2012 vehicles and newer, then my Tier II-certified 2011 Civic GX won't be able to receive the benefit. Tell me that makes sense, and that the reality of such a scenario is simple. Because that's exactly what already happened to 1998-2000 Civic GXs.

              If California can make their own regulations deciding which vehicles to allow, Utah can too. California's regulations are much less brain-dead in terms of which vehicles to allow. They also don't allow the Prius, which makes sense to me. It uses the same fuel as all the other cars, but has a little bit better fuel economy on the highway (and much better in the city). So if you're going to allow the Prius in the HOV lane, why not also allow the Smart Car or other high-mileage vehicles? Clearly, the EPA's list makes less sense than CA's list.

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              • #8
                Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

                Agreed!

                I am getting ready to sell my 1998 Civic Gx which is allowed HOV access in California. It has the white decals.

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                • #9
                  Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

                  The model year 2004 line-in-the-sand is due to more stringent standards which were implemented at that point in time.
                  http://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/detailedchart.pdf

                  The Clean Air Act provided that California can have its own mobile source emission rules so long as they are more stringent than the federal regulation. In the case of allowing pre-2004 vehicles HOV lane access I do think an argument could be made that this is less-stringent than the federal requirements from DOT.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

                    I think it absurd that bi fuel vehicles are not considered clean burning by the epa (and the idiotic states that rubber stamp epa's politics), Cng will almost always run cleaner than gas or diesel, and... no smart individual will ever run a vehicle on gasoline when chg is available. IMHO, our govt needs to learn the difference between politics and incentives to entice behavior.

                    FWIW- Why would anyone in Utah want to pay for, and drive in the slow, severely limited exit, far left lane?

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                    • #11
                      Re: Utah's HOV lane shake-up: Goodbye "C" plate, hello "C" decal

                      bump
                      bump!!
                      Last edited by randys2000; 08-04-2011, 11:48 PM. Reason: Dealing with utah c plate

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