In a positive move for the environment, and drivers of hybrid and electric vehicles, the Ontario Government has introduced a new green license plate signifying that the owner can drive in HOV lanes without the need for passengers:
Electric vehicles with the plates will be able to travel in the province’s carpool lanes until 2015 — even if only one person is in the vehicle.
Owners of eligible vehicles can also use recharging stations at GO Transit and other provincially owned parking lots. Owners of those vehicles will also have access to special parking spots at University of Toronto, some Wal-Mart locations, and at other private companies.
There have been great debates in the U.S. and Canada over the costs/value/usage of HOV lanes, and over the best way to administer them for maximum effectiveness in terms of reducing traffic congestion and encouraging more eco-friendly travel.
The facts are clear though. There are approx. 500 million cars on the road in North America, generating upwards of 1 billion trips per day. More than 75% of those trips are single occupant. And the worst part? The resulting traffic congestion costs the U.S. over $200 billion per year in lost productivity due to the 3 billion+ hours a year we all spend sitting in traffic, making loving gestures at each other.
Our habit of driving alone has made traffic rapidly outstrip our capacity to build infrastructure to support it.
We live in an incentive driven world, and with the proper incentives, HOV Lanes are a great way of modifying our behaviour to make life easier, more productive and more eco-friendly.
While I applaud the government for pushing a green agenda with this move, the onus is now on those hybrid and electric vehicle drivers to share some seats in their cars and help to reduce traffic congestion as well.