The fairly recent end to the California program that allowed hybrid car owners to drive solo in carpool lanes turned out to be a doozie. Other drivers complained that hybrid cars were clogging up the carpool lanes. Turns out, they were wrong.

According to researchers at UC Berkeley’s Institute of Transportations Studies, the hybrid carpool ban resulted in more congested traffic for all drivers. A new program is in the works to allow qualifying drivers back onto the carpool lanes.

Our very own astronomy professor here at Cal, Alex Filippenko, owns a Prius himself, and he commented, “I think this is an interesting study whose initially counterintuitive result for drivers in the carpool lanes is, in retrospect, quite reasonable. As a result of these conclusions, I hope solo drivers of hybrid cars that qualified for the program a few years ago are once again allowed in the carpool lanes.”

Hybrid cards have some controversy surrounding them, seeing that though they may reduce carbon emissions as a vehicle, the amount of carbon emissions emitted during the process of making the actual hybrid raises some questions. Certainly, the technology behind these cars is improving, so California is making the right move into slowly transitioning into a world that might have 100 percent hybrid/electric cars in the future.

But car companies, please make them cheaper so we can all be chargin’ our batteries.

Image source: Paul Garland under Creative Commons
Kicking hybrids out of carpool lanes backfires, slowing traffic for all [UC Berkeley News Center]

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