Opinionated @ CFE

SB38 Could Bring Some Sanity to HOV Lanes


I was perusing through the list of bills filed so far up at the hill and came across SB38, Restrictions on High Occupancy Vehicle Lane. This adopts a practice used in many other states that turns HOV lanes into normal lanes outside of peak traffic hours defined in the bill as 6AM to 9AM and 4PM to 7PM. This would certainly be a welcome change to help lessen congestion outside of the morning and evening commutes.

Even so, I see a few tweaks worth considering before it hits the final version. The lane restrictions would remain in effect all days of the week, not just on weekdays. Given the low traffic on Saturdays and Sundays, it would make sense to amend the bill so that HOV restrictions are only in effect Monday through Friday. I also question the wisdom of removing the double white lines and restricted lane access. I could see suspending the rules of lane entry and exit during non-peak hours, but during peak hours you have crazy drivers darting in and out to make a quick pass, even if they are ineligible to use the lane at that time. That’s why they were put there in the first place.

I’ve already e-mailed Sen. Karen Morgan to provide this feedback. Even without modification, I think this is a good common-sense bill that should be passed.

2 Responses to SB38 Could Bring Some Sanity to HOV Lanes

  1. I completely disagree! There’s not a NEED for anything to change. If traffic is congested, the lanes should be available for their purpose – to give people who are carpooling a reward for not being part of the problem. If it’s not congested, there’s no point in them being open.

    If a change needs to happen, I’d say it needs to be that they should be switched to operate like Houston’s HOV lanes do – there’s just one, and it opens in one direction in the morning, and the other in the evening. Barricades are in place so people can’t move in and out, except for at “exits”.

  2. I don’t think that the lane benefit is a primary factor in the decision to carpool during non-peak hours. I would argue that it’s more likely that the direct costs in fuel and parking have much more of an impact on that decision. When I’m weighing between driving or taking the train for downtown trips, the time and cost are what make the decision for me. A quick search couldn’t turn up any studies one way or the other, so I have anecdotal evidence at best.

    Houston’s HOV lanes are very nice. The DC metro area also uses reversible lanes and dedicated ramps. Both of those areas have the benefit of a lot more space than we do, not to mention better planning. I was kind of surprised when I moved here and the carpool lane had only a single set of dedicated on/off ramps.

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