PASADENA (CBSLA.com) — If you’ve ever been alone in your car and wanted to sneak into the carpool lane, there’s now a proposal to allow you to legally do just that — outside rush hour — on two of the Southland’s busiest freeways.
Assemblyman Mike Gatto, D-Silver Lake, wants to relax the HOV rules on portions of the 134 and 210 Freeways to make better use of the existing lanes. His proposal would open the lanes on the 134 to solo drivers between Studio City and Pasadena, and between Pasadena and Glendora on the 210, during non-commuter hours.
CBS2’s Laurie Perez took a drive Monday afternoon and found nearly every lane filled with nonstop traffic. Every lane except the car pool lane.
“Well, we’ve all been there, we’ve been sitting on a freeway late at night, and there’s some kind of accident slows the lanes and we look over and we see that the carpool lane is not really being used,” Gatto said from his office.
Right now, the carpool lanes are restricted every hour of every day, unlike similar lanes elsewhere in the state that are only limited during rush hour and never on weekends.
Gatto said his proposal would ease congestion and, in turn, reduce pollution from bumper-to-bumper traffic.
State lawmakers approved the bill in 2013 only to have Gov. Jerry Brown veto it, and the Sierra Club has also opposed the idea. But Gatto points to a Caltrans report that found the lanes are underutilized in nonpeak hours, and he re-introduced the measure at the Capitol on Monday.
“Hopefully, the governor will be persuaded by that report; it was done by his own department,” Gatto said. “I would say it’s just a matter of capacity, when one lane sits vacant and the rest of the lanes are jammed up, it only makes good sense to use that lane.”
Assembly Bill 210 would create a pilot program of flextime carpool lanes on the 210, 134 and possibly other freeways.
Drivers Perez spoke with hope the idea gets some speed, so they can, too.
“I drive all day so I see it, and if there’s as few people as it shows when I’m down there, that’d be great,” said Jason Ward.
“It would change my commute definitely,” added Paulette Osorio.
When the bill was considered in 2013, it was estimated that changing signs and creating more places to enter and exit the carpool lanes would cost about $360,000.