Christopher Swope was GOVERNING's executive editor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
For as long as states such as Arizona, California and Virginia have let drivers of hybrid-electric cars ride solo in highway carpool lanes, there's only one thing we've known for sure about the experiment: Just about everyone, except the hybrid drivers themselves, hates it.
Finally, there's a new data point. An analysis of hybrid ownership in the D.C. Metro area indicates that these policies do, in fact, have their intended effect. Virginia allows hybrids into the HOV lanes. Maryland does not. The apparent result? Hybrid ownership in Northern Virginia is twice that of the Maryland burbs. What's more, the Virginia data shows that hybrids are most popular in the exurbs, where drivers are most likely to have long commutes and take advantage of the HOV benefit.
I wouldn't read this as an excuse to give hybrids a carte blanche on the highways. As I wrote some months ago (last item), just because a car is a "hybrid" doesn't mean it's any more fuel-efficient than any old Honda Civic. It is encouraging, however, to see evidence that HOV privileges are an effective tool for influencing behavior.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.