Wednesday, January 30, 2008

This is a recent letter I wrote to the Free-Lance Star (the local Fredericksburg, VA newspaper) regarding the proposed bill in the Virginia legislature that would extend HOV exemption for hybrid cars for another year. The provision is set to expire in July of this year, and it was originally supposed to expire in 2004.

To the editor,

There is currently a bill in the Virginia House of Delegates that would extend the HOV exemption for hybrid vehicles for another year (despite an original expiration of 2004). This affects a large number of people in the Fredericksburg area who commute up to the DC area. Those of us who commute smartly take vanpools or carpools, so as to reduce the number of cars on the road and to allow for a quicker commute. That is, after all, the whole point of the High Occupancy Vehicle lanes -- to encourage pooling of rides. This exemption for hybrids has the unintended consequence of clogging up traffic in the HOV lanes when vanpooling/carpooling should be rewarded with a faster commute for reducing the numbers of cars on the road.

From an emissions standpoint, hybrids operate completely on gasoline when in “highway mode.” Environmentally speaking, a carpool of three people is going to have a better effect than three people in separate hybrid cars. In fact, three 51-mpg hybrids will use the same amount of gas round-trip as one 17-mpg SUV with three people in it. We need to encourage carpooling and vanpooling, and the way to do this is to allow the hybrids exception to expire. The hybrid owners are also certainly capable of forming carpools with their more efficient cars.

We need to start demanding common sense from our state government. I encourage your readers to write letters and emails to our local delegates demanding that they vote against this exemption.

Very respectfully,
Ben Bursae
Fredericksburg, VA

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