Wednesday, September 29, 2010

HOV lanes, Not in my Backyard!

What exactly are HOV Lanes?  HOV or High Occupancy Vehicle lanes are lanes on a congested highway that are set aside either by a buffer or a barrier and are reserved for vehicles with usually 2 or more passengers.

Barrier HOV

Buffer HOV

HOV lanes mean you have to pay a toll to drive on the highway, right?  WRONG, an HOV lane is just a dedicated lane of a regular highway.

If they make it so one lane is only for carpools and buses, it's going to make traffic even worse! Well not according to a study done by the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), part of the A&M University System, on the effectiveness of HOV lanes in Dallas. TTI found that

  • All five freeways with an HOV lanes have shown an 8 to 12 percent increase in average automobile occupancy, suggesting that motorists have formed carpools to gain the benefits of traveling in an HOV lane.
  • HOV lane speeds on all five facilities are significantly higher than the speeds on the adjacent general-purpose lanes.
  • General-purpose lane speeds have remained constant or have increased on all corridors since the opening of the HOV lanes.
  • Bus operating speeds have more than doubled since the opening of the HOV lanes on IH-30, IH-35E North, and IH-35E South during the AM and PM peak hours.
  • DART’s bus operating costs have been reduced by approximately $587,000 per year since the implementation of HOV lanes.
  • All HOV lane projects are cost-effective and have attained or are projected to attain a benefit-cost ratio greater than 1.0 within the first six years of operation.
But, light rail would be so much better than HOV lanes and buses.  Well apparently commuters in Austin don't agree.  Tory Gattis at says that
Austin bus riders are protesting the cancellation of existing commuter bus routes that parallel the new rail line.  Why?  Because the buses are *faster*.  This is one of the key arguments I've made against commuter rail in Houston: net-30mph commuter trains are much slower than 60mph express buses in HOV lanes, especially when considering the long walk or connection after getting off of the train vs. buses that can circulate around the job center to get you close to your building.
So, if HOV lanes increase the speeds on highways, make buses faster, help bus transit authorities save money, and are cost-effective (in other words, pretty inexpensive to install), WHY ARE YOU AGAINST THEM?????

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