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July 1: No more solo-driver hybrid cars in carpool lanes

June 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
One of the perks of driving a hybrid automobile is about to hit a dead end. In just two days, hybrid drivers will no longer be able to use the carpool lane if they're by themselves.

For thousands of Californians the gold hybrid bumper sticker has been as good as gold. Cars with the stickers could be driven solo in the carpool lane.

But in two more days, the yellow sticker program will come to a screeching halt.

The DMV mailed out 85,000 letters last month notifying owners of the precious stickers that their time is about up.

The program started seven years ago to encourage sales of hybrid cars. The DMV reached its cap and stopped issuing the stickers in 2006. The July 1 expiration comes after a six-month extension.

"I was hoping they would extend it a bit more, because it does help me a lot," said Van Nuys resident Valentino So. "I take the 170 to the 101 and every morning it's just horrendous."

"I bought the car in 2006 when there were about 70,000 left," said Glendale resident Deveny Kelly. "And we rushed the process to get one because my husband and I both work in the Hollywood area, and so we have a lot of traffic, and it's been a godsend."

But now for thousands of Californians, they'll be setting their alarms a little earlier and getting home a little later -- unless they can round up a passenger.

Come Friday there's no free pass for owners of the stickers. Officers will be watching out, ready to issue citations to drivers who are caught cruising alone in the carpool lane.

There is a way for people to still drive solo in the HOV lanes until 2016. That's if they have a special white sticker given to people who drive electric, natural-gas or other alternative-fuel cars.


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