Tuesday, May 15, 2012

EVs in HOV en Virginie, C'est Fini!

On 30 June 2012 the Clean Fuel HOV easement will end in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  The General Assembly failed to pass legislation in the 2011 session that would renew the easement allowing hybrid and electric vehicles access to certain of Virginia's HOV lanes depending on when the car was registered.  This system favored older hybrid cars in lieu of newer, cleaner of fully-electric, zero-emission vehicles.

Clearly, the Commonwealth decided to take me up on the second of my six proposals:

2. End the Clean Fuel HOV easement all together, which although fair would, I suspect, make no-one happy.

And clearly, I'm not happy.  Had I my druthers, we'd have passed item six of that list:

6. Allow only Plug-In Vehicles, vehicles that can be plugged into the wall, to take advantage of the HOV easement.  As a resident of Northern Virginia I find this the best solution for the Commonwealth because it's the exact same rule which governs our neighbor Maryland.  In fact, what would benefit the residents of Northern Virginia most would be if Richmond and Annapolis could set up a joint commission and co-operate on the issuing of this Plug-In easement such that each state would recognize the other's right to use HOV single occupancy within both states.

Instead, the Commonwealth is moving to a HOT-lane model.  First, I495 will be adding an HOV-3 HOT Lane that will work similarly to the Maryland Route 200 Inter-County Connector (ICC).  However, unlike the ICC, the I495 HOT lines will allow cars equipped with a special transponder that can verify the requisite number of passengers (3) it will be able to pass through the toll stations without being charged.  After the I495 HOT Lanes are completed, the plan is to extend these new toll lanes into the HOV for I95/I395 from Edsall Road in Arlington, VA, the first exit after the I495 beltway on I395, to Garrisonville Road in Stafford County, just South of the Marine Corps Base Quantico.

I asked Commonwealth Delegate Tom Rust about allowing EVs, at least, free access to these new HOV/HOT lanes but he said the contracts had already been signed and had no interest in pursuing any perk that would encourage Virginian's to switch to zero-emmission vehicles and thus help clean our state as well as put less pressure on gasoline prices for existing Internal Combustion Vehicles but reducing the demand for Gasoline by moving more people to EVs.  And recently Green Car Reports has taken up my cause, for what it's worth.  Personally, I think it's pretty hopeless but it doesn't mean we can't try to get things right here in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  I know I have support for my favorite option in Maryland.  Let's keep Virginia green and get EVs on those HOVs!  EVs from Virginia, EVs from Maryland and EVs from D.C.!  And then we can all breathe a little easier thanks to a greener Virginia.

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