California owners of plug-in electric vehicles have been furious with the state government for allowing disappearance of HOV carpool-lane single passenger access on a few major freeways – turning them into toll roads and taking away one of the key benefits of spending more on a hybrid or electric vehicle. The Harbor freeway (110) in Los Angeles has been one of them, and the San Diego freeway (405) has been scheduled to go that same route. The state has been looking for additional tax revenue and will continue expanding the toll roads that require FasTrak and E-ZPass billing and payment systems.
On May 20, the California Assembly passed a bill by a wide margin to extend carpool-lane access to EVs and other clean vehicles. AB 266 also gives these vehicles access to carpool lanes converted to toll roads. The bill is now moving on to the state Senate.
Under the legislation, cars with while clean-air stickers – EVs, hydrogen fuel cell, and compressed natural gas vehicles – would have carpool lane access to 2020. If the bill doesn’t pass, the state program will run out in 2015. Cars with green stickers – plug-in hybrids – would have carpool lane use until 2018. There’s no limit to white stickers, but green stickers cap out at 40,000 vehicles. That limit was originally placed on Toyota Priuses, which is why you’ll see newer models driving down the freeway with no stickers, while an older model has a carpool-lane sticker.