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Posts Tagged ‘HOV’

The Mercury News has published an article on the plague of HOV cheaters. Speaking on behalf of the MTC, the article describes the problem as unsolvable — and that the region should just accept a 39% cheating rate.

The Merc describes various “Buck Rogers” gizmos the MTC has tried, everything from phone apps to “laser-guided” cameras, to attack the problem. Of course these technologies are expensive vapor-ware — which completely misses the point. There exists a very simple and very inexpensive solution to the problem that requires no new technology:

The core concept that would permit automated, electronic enforcement of occupancy relies on changing the definition of an eligible carpool. Instead of allowing any vehicle with three or more occupants, a revised policy would limit eligibility to pre-registered carpools. Such carpools would be required to have a transponder. Thus, the only enforcement required on the HOT lane itself would be ordinary electronic toll enforcement: communications equipment to interface with the vehicle-mounted transponder and video cameras to make an image of the license plate of any vehicle without a valid transponder/account combination. The only other enforcement required would be periodic verification that the carpool is still in operation, as originally registered. Thus, enforcement would be off-road, not on-road.

Shifting from casual to registered carpools would return to the original trip-reduction purpose on which the creation of HOV lanes was based: providing an incentive for fellow employees to share rides to work, leaving one or more vehicles at home and thereby reducing congestion on the roads during peak periods. Over the last several decades, a number of studies have found that large fractions of those traveling to work as carpools were in fact “fam-pools”—members of the same family who would be traveling together in any case (and whose carpooling therefore does not reduce peak-period vehicle use). For example, one analysis of data from the National Personal Travel Survey and the National Household Travel Survey found that fam-pools constituted 75.5% of all journey-to-work carpools in 1990 and 83% in 2001.

Metro-area ride-sharing agencies are the most likely entity to register eligible carpools and to work with employers to audit their continuing existence (and hence eligibility for free or reduced-rate access to HOT lanes). Such agencies already have experience working with employers on carpooling and vanpooling programs. The ongoing existence and operation of vanpools is monitored and audited, since the vehicles are often provided by a public agency and must be retrieved if the vanpool ceases to operate or drops below a threshold number of participants. Many of these agencies are supported, in whole or in part, by the state DOT or other public agency, so this new role could become part of their ongoing contractual obligations.

This is such an obvious solution, one has to wonder why it is never discussed within the MTC. It re-enforces the notion that the only purpose behind carpool lanes is to greenwash highway widenings.

And by the way, if you are wondering where this radical idea comes from, the above quote is from the Car-bitarians at Reason. You know things have really gone off the rails when Reason makes more sense than the ‘progressive’ planners at the MTC.

EBT-L-CHEATERS-06XX-03

MTC staffers testing out an ‘occupancy-detection’ camera.

 

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