While I agree with HOV/carpool lanes in principle
, I've heard some decent arguments
against them (or rather why they are not the end-all solution to traffic problems). One problem I see stems from casual carpool
. The basic idea of carpool lanes is to have less cars on the road. That means that people who normally drive need to pair up (or make trios), either through friends
or casual carpool
. Most people I met when I did casual carpool
(picking up people
and driving people myself) are not people who would normally be driving in the first place. They are people near public transportation
who have found a free way to get to their destination (for example
, they got a free ride over the San Francisco Bay
) instead of paying $X.XX to use the public transportation
. If most people using the carpool
lane aren't regular car commuters
, then the carpool
lanes isn't easing up any traffic. Second, I can't tell you how many times I was stuck in traffic when I first moved to the Bay Area
and saw mothers and a 5 year old kid in the commuter lane (I don't think most of them were commuting
). Third, you need massive vigilance to make sure people don't abuse the carpool lane and just drive in it without a second or third person (not that frequent, me thinks) like a cop
sitting on the freeway
, which just makes people paranoid
and slows things down :).
Finally, most places that need to institute carpool lanes are fast growing metropolis'. Let's say people do use these lanes in the intended, ideal fashion and gather up a friend who commutes to a city in a car as well. As more people use it, but more people start moving to the city, more cars come on the road and take those people's places. Meanwhile, suddenly, the single lane used for carpools, due to the increased amount of proper usage, has become as clogged as the regular lanes.
Which brings me to my next point. Perhaps cars are not the best way to be commuting to work and the DOT's of each state shouldn't encourage it in any way. Traffic jams are not just caused by a large amount of cars. They are caused by accidents, stalls, terrible driving (people who pop from lane to lane looking for the "fastest" lane in stand-still traffic, people who like to give 10,000 car lengths between the car in front of them in heavy traffic), people merging on and off highways, toll bridges (think about how much easier the commute into San Francisco would be if there was no back up at the toll plazas!) and just generally poor infrastructure leading into major cities (don't make me list some of them all over the country :). All of these added problems are what makes the number of cars on freeways during rush hour so unwielding.
Perhaps transportation departments need to think about rapidly getting public transit into place and making it completely desirable for people to use (low prices, bus-train accessibility for transfers, good scheduling, extensive coverage) and find ways to make it absolutely miserable (yes, more miserable than it already is :). Alas, in order to pull this off, it would require some massive changes to the ways in which more public transportation is put into place. And maybe some areas are just doomed due to this car obsessed culture. This is not to say I think that carpool lanes should be done away with. I'm not saying that HOV lanes are completely bad, but they are a band-aid approach to a larger problem that isn't being addressed in most major cities fast enough. If you are driving on freeways, for whatever reason, please do pick up someone. I just wanted to add a little something to this node showing the "darker" side of commuting.