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California's HOV lane bills shake out

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  • California's HOV lane bills shake out

    HOV lane bills shake out
    By CalNGV
    The number of HOV lane bills has dropped from three to two, one in each house. Assembly member Mike Eng (D-Monterey Park) decided to hold his bill, AB 1502, when Assembly member Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) agreed to amend the Coalition-sponsored AB 1500 to limit the access extension to AFVs. AB 1500 originally extended the sunset for all qualifying vehicles, including hybrids that get 45 mpg ("yellow stickers"). Eng, who chairs the Transportation Committee, believes there’s no need for a hybrid incentive and is concerned about HOV lanes clogging up as more hybrids hit the roads (CalNGV News, 3.9.09).
    AB 1500 now extends HOV lane access for single-occupant AFVs five years beyond the current sunset, to Jan. 1, 2016, but lets access for hybrid vehicles expire on Jan. 1, 2011.
    Meanwhile, SB 535 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) has been amended to nearly match AB 1500. A previous version of SB 535 allowed both white and yellow stickers to sunset, but created a new sticker for plug-in hybrids. The current version continues HOV lane access without any sunset for white stickers, allows yellow stickers to sunset in 2011, and drops the plug-in hybrid sticker. Yee wants to allow single-occupant HOV lane access for pure electric vehicles as well, and may amend the bill further to reflect that. (The Coalition believes electric vehicles are already included in the white sticker category.)
    Federal authority remains an issue. The federal law allowing single-occupant ILEVs and low-emission or energy-efficient vehicles to use HOV lanes expires Sept. 30. A new federal transportation bill is due this year, but there’s no word yet on whether Congress intends to extend the access provision.