Keeping the Carpool Incentives

(3/5/13) – IE Transit Talking Points Short

USA Today interviewed Jim Bak of INRIX, a traffic congestion tracking firm based in Washington. Bak stated, “Drivers (in the Inland Empire) have a lot of incentive to carpool.” He is correct, to an extent. With the 91 Freeway ranked the 10th worst freeway in the country, demands to rideshare and use high occupancy lanes to bypass traffic congestion is high. 16% of all commuter traffic in San Bernardino County alone are HOV’s according to the US Census Bureau.

So with an overwhelmingly high HOV market demand in the area shown by congested freeway carpool lanes and filled park & ride lots, the focus may be incentives to convert 2-person HOV's into 3+ HOV's. Why then are 3+ HOV’s mandated to use a FasTrak transponder to use the 91 Express Lanes into Orange County and pay tolls during the PM rush hour in the peak direction? Why are these lanes carrying more toll-paying non-HOV’s than 3+ HOV’s? It’s clear that there are legit 3+ HOV’s being displaced from Orange County’s high occupancy toll lanes with the extra capacity being sold to non-HOV’s. It seems like incentives to carpool with 3 persons or more drop when such HOV’s are strapped with ill-advised usage policies in a publicly owned high occupancy toll lane corridor. “Nanny lanes” anyone?