Assemblyman Mike Gatto’s legislation to help increase the efficiency of Los Angeles County’s freeway system, one of the nation’s most notoriously congested systems, passed its first legislative hurdle today, the Assembly Transportation Committee by a vote of 13-0. The bill, AB 210, will create a pilot project to help ease traffic congestion during non-traditional commutes, by permitting single-occupancy vehicles to access the high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes (also known as carpool lanes), during non-peak hours.
“It’s happened to anyone who lives in Southern California. A late-night accident or mysterious slowing clogs the rightmost freeway lanes, while the carpool lane sits empty,” said Gatto. “AB 210 is a cost-effective way to expand capacity on the state’s highway system and ensure that non-peak hour travelers can travel to and from home and work and deliver goods and services efficiently.”
Assembly Bill 210 would create a pilot program allowing access to HOV lanes during off-peak travel hours on the 134 freeway from Studio City to Pasadena, including Burbank and Glendale; the 210 freeway from Pasadena to Glendora, including the San Gabriel Valley communities of Monrovia, Duarte, and San Dimas; and other freeways in Los Angeles County deemed appropriate by the Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
Unlike Northern California, where HOV lane restrictions are in place only during peak commute hours, HOV lanes in Southern California are restricted on a 24-hour basis.
“The current restriction of HOV lanes to only high-occupancy vehicles or to those who can afford high-efficiency vehicles is an ineffective way to operate these lanes outside of rush hour,” said Gatto. “California’s highway system needs to remain flexible, especially in areas here people drive the freeways at all times.” Many commuters along the 134 and 210 corridor do not work traditional hours.
“Traffic congestion is almost always bad during rush hour; it need not be bad all night long,” said Gatto.