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California Takes Away Carpool Lane Access For 220,000 Drivers

Jeffrey Schaub
September 12, 2018 - 10:54 am

(KCBS Radio) — California officials are taking away a perk for drivers of older plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicles in an attempt to reduce freeway congestion. 

Currently, solo drivers of these cars enjoy access to high occupancy vehicle lanes across California if they have a green or white sticker from the clean-air program. 

But now the state, in a bid to ease traffic in what have become massively overcrowded carpool lanes, is removing that privilege from car owners whose special access decals were obtained before 2017. 

Starting in 2019, these drivers will not be able to renew their stickers. Drivers who got their stickers in 2017 or this year can apply for a new red decal, which will replace the current white or green decals these cars now sport. Starting in 2019, only drivers with red decals will enjoy carpool lane privileges while traveling alone. 

The rule change is expected to impact more than 220,000 California drivers. 

Dan Miller, who drives an older Tesla, is one of them. He appreciates the HOV privileges the Clean Air Vehicle program has afforded him, but he's sanguine about the change.

"Eventually I think all cars will be low carbon, whether they're electric or hybrids. You can't put everyone in the carpool lane, so you have to restrict it," he said. 

The California Air Resources Board has posted an explanation of the rule change and a list of cars that qualify for the new red stickers. 

Written by Diana Shook