2015 is a very important year when it comes to single occupant carpool lanes and changes being instilled for many qualifying vehicles. High-occupancy vehicle lanes, also known as HOV lanes, is a network of special-use freeway lanes that connect major population and employment centers. These lanes work to increase freeway efficiency by moving more people in fewer vehicles than the full lane next to them, and also save time for both bus riders and carpoolers when it comes to areas of congestion. Everybody stays on schedule and remains happy. Typically, drivers were always permitted to use the HOV lanes only when there were two or more people in the vehicle. However, it has also been determined that single occupants operating hybrid vehicles could also take advantage of these lanes.
For California, there has been news regarding single-occupant use of carpool lanes. This is because, as of October 5, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) began issuing 75,954 Green Clean Air Vehicle decals. To use these lanes in California with a single occupant, a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker must have been distributed to you by the DMV. Here are the two types of stickers still available and what they do:
- White Decals: These decals were made available to an unlimited number of qualifying Federal Inherently Low Emission Vehicles (ILEVs). These vehicles are typically 100% battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell.
- Green Decals: These were originally available to the first 40,000 applicants that purchased or leased cars that met California’s transitional emission vehicles requirement, which was an enhanced advanced technology partial zero emission vehicle requirement. The green decal limit has been raised to a maximum of 85,000, which was immediately effective.
What models will qualify for the Green Clean Air Vehicle Decals?
There are many qualifying vehicles in mentioning, including such models as the 2016 Cadillac ELRs, 2016 Chevy Volts, 2016 Ford Fusion Energis, 2015 BMW i3 EV RExs, 2015 Cadillac ELRs, 2015 Chevy Volts, 2015 Ford C-Max Energis, 2015 Ford Fusion Energis, 2015 Mercedes-Benz S 550es, 2015 Toyota Prius Plug-ins, 2014 BMW i3 RExs, 2014 Chevy Volts, 2014 C-Max Energis, 2014 Fusion Energis, 2014 Honda Accord Plug-in Hybrids, 2013 Chevy Volts, 2013 Ford C-Max Energis, 2013 Ford Fusion Energis, 2013 Toyota Prius Plug-ins, 2012 Chevy Volts, and 2012 Prius Plug-in Hybrids. Most vehicles that meet the Transitional Zero Emission Vehicle or TZEV requirement will qualify. In order for a vehicle to be considered a TZEV, plug-in hybrids and internal combustion engine vehicles must do the following:
- Meet California’s most stringent tailpipe emission standard
- Have no evaporative emissions
- Have a 15 yr/150k mile warranty on the emissions
- Have a 10 yr/150k warranty on the zero emission energy storage system
California has actually received an authority from the federal government that allows certain vehicles a single occupant access to HOV lanes. This has come about through the usage of different federal transportation bills. It is also important to note that not all PHEV and ICE vehicles will meet the requirements listed, and may not be considered for the lanes.