Combination of carpool lanes with High Occupancy Toll lanes to benefit everyone

Karen Feng

The fact of the matter is that carpool lanes have failed. In the past 30 years, the number of carpoolers has dropped, leaving single-occupant drivers stuck in traffic and looking at empty carpool lanes in envy and confusion.
This is just one of the reasons why the Bay Area’s development of High Occupancy Toll lanes on all freeways and highways (including I-280 and CA-85) is so appealing. HOT lane drivers would pay a small fee to use the carpool lane, utilizing the underused carpool lanes to expand mobility, reduce congestion and provide a source of revenue for the state.
Despite these benefits, HOT lanes have been called “Lexus lanes,” criticized of being an unfair benefit for the wealthy. Yet national surveys have shown just the opposite: the majority of HOT lane users are members of the middle and low-income brackets. Time is money and toll rates are generally cheap: for example, San Diego’s highways’ HOT lanes’ toll rates vary between $1 and $2.50 during peak periods, although the final prices would vary based on area.
The implementation of the HOT system will benefit not only students but also parents and teachers as they commute to school and work. And the program’s plan to remove the gaps in carpool lanes between highways will directly benefit even non-toll payers.