SoCal carpool lanes could change to 3 occupants

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- HOV lanes are supposed to help ease congestion by encouraging people to share rides, rewarding them with a faster-moving lane. Now Southern California officials are questioning whether the HOV lanes are working as well as they should and looking at ways to improve them.

One option under consideration is to shift the ridership requirement for the lanes from two to three people per vehicle.

Already one SoCal road, the 10 Freeway, requires three people during peak hours.

The issue is money. Carpool lanes and toll lanes that get federal money have to maintain an average speed of 45 miles per hour during peak periods. Two thirds of California's carpool lanes do not.

"The federal government has a criteria for the efficient use of carpool lanes," said Dave Sotero, spokesman for LA County's Metro transit agency. "The carpool lane has to travel 45 miles an hour. If it goes under, then it's considered degraded."

Metro maintains the largest HOV lane network in the country - 466 miles.

And the agency is building 160 more miles to have an integrated network. Several sections have become toll lanes that charge a higher price if you drive during peaks hours. Sotero says the express lanes program has been successful, and has maintained average speeds at 45 mph.

Some SoCal drivers say they aren't fans of the idea of making carpool lanes harder to access.

"I'm not too crazy about that," said motorist Joe Lemon. "It's pretty much just me and my wife. Two is better, rather than trying to have a third wheel."
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