The phrase,'Unsound Transit', was coined by the Wall Street Journal to describe Seattle where,"Light Rail Madness eats billions that could otherwise be devoted to truly efficient transportation technologies." The Puget Sound's traffic congestion is a growing cancer on the region's prosperity. This website, captures news and expert opinion about ways to address the crisis. This is not a blog, but a knowledge base, which collects the best articles and presents them in a searchable format. My goal is to arm residents with knowledge so they can champion fact-based, rather than emotional, solutions.


Monday, March 10, 2008

Do Car-Pool Lanes Work?


Are highway lanes that require cars to carry more than one passenger, known as high-occupancy-vehicle, or H.O.V., lanes, the solution to congestion, or are they inefficient?

Inbound Only

Most likely, H.O.V. lanes will be underused. It's difficult to arrange to commute with another person in both directions on a regular basis. For example, I could probably find a neighbor willing to leave for work with me each day at 6:30 A.M. However, would this neighbor be willing to work late on the same days that I do? I doubt it. On such days, who pays for gasoline, parking and tolls? Should the neighbor feel slighted by me because the H.O.V. lanes will be off limits on the solo return trip?

Shared return trips are difficult to arrange for those of us with unpredictable schedules; therefore, evening H.O.V. lanes would just reduce the number of available lanes for the majority of motorists, who will be stuck in more traffic, wasting fuel and creating more pollution as they idle.


Pattern of Failure

Conceptually flawed from an engineering viewpoint, H.O.V. lanes generally result in inefficient use of highway capacity. Only 50 to 60 percent of the Interstate 80 lane's capacity is being used after 22 months of operation. Meanwhile, the other lanes are jammed to capacity, resulting in substantial slowing of the traffic. Computer modeling described in the I-80 lane feasibility study predicted these conditions.

H.O.V. lanes have been ineffective nationwide. Operating at roughly the same capacity as on its second day, the I-80 lane has continued this pattern of failure.


Sharing With a Spouse

I wouldn't want to see the H.O.V. lanes discontinued. Guilty as it makes me feel, my wife and I enjoy using them. We always ride together and I'll wager that most "ride share" folks in the H.O.V. lanes, like us, are also out of the same household and would be traveling together anyway. To prove that H.O.V. lanes do not reduce the numbers of cars on the roads, they need only raise the minimum number of occupants per car to three. Screams will be heard Albany to Trenton.

CARL SPARACIO Ramsey Enforce the Rules

H.O.V. lanes work reasonably well and should be expanded and better enforced. First, two in a car should be sufficient to qualify for the H.O.V. lane. Too often, especially on the tunnel approaches, the requirement is for three. Second, there should be greater enforcement of the rules. Third, we must find more incentives to end one-person driving -- our environmental health is at stake.


The writer is president of the Association for a Better New Jersey.

The articles are posted solely for educational purposes to raise awareness of transportation issues. I claim no authorship, nor do I profit from this website. Where known, all original authors and/or source publisher have been noted in the post. As this is a knowledge base, rather than a blog, I have reproduced the articles in full to allow for complete reader understanding and allow for comprehensive text searching...see custom google search engine at the top of the page. If you have concerns about the inclusion of a specific article, please email for a speedy resolution.