1998-99 was a turbulent period for high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes in the U.S. Although most HOV lanes operate successfully and new ones continue to be built, a populist revolt has suddenly surfaced against set-aside lanes for carpools and vanpools. Critics charge that HOV lanes are often grossly underutilized, and have thus failed to relieve congestion or improve air quality as promised. In November 1998, Governor Christine Whitman decommissioned 2 unpopular carpool lanes in New Jersey, on I-287 and I-80, which by most accounts was justified in light of their poor performance. Undersubscribed carpool lanes and oversubscribed regular lanes do little to reduce emissions or hasten traffic. New Jersey is not the first state to abolish preferential lanes. In 1995, 2 HOV lanes were reverted back to regular lanes in Montreal, Canada, within a few days of opening because of traffic snarls and relentless ridiculing of highway officials by the local mass media. And, in 1976, a regular lane was converted to a 3-or-more-occupant diamond lane with little advanced warning on the Santa Monica (CA) Freeway causing near-instant traffic paralysis. But these instances involved the expropriation of existing lanes for carpools and vanpools. What we are seeing today is the conversion of newly built HOV lanes to regular lanes. Following New Jersey's lead, over the past year politicians in California, Minnesota, Virginia, and New York have sought to decommission HOV lanes in their own states.


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Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: p. 67-81
  • Serial:

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00789452
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Mar 13 2000 12:00AM