Hybrid owners may soon need a co-pilot and a couple of backseat drivers to use HOV lanes, as the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approved a six-year highway spending bill with an amendment that would redefine for states what vehicles can and cannot use such lanes for solo driving.
The Detroit News reports Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma sponsored the approved amendment, which would continue to allow EVs, PHEVs, CNG vehicles and hydrogen vehicles to use HOV lanes with a only the driver inside, but would prohibit states from allowing hybrids to use such lanes in new access programs. That said, most states have already ended single-occupant hybrid access.
In the meantime, California — which phased out hybrid access in 2011 — has run out of access permits for PHEVs, hitting its 40,000 cap earlier this year. The state’s legislators have introduced legislation that would boost the total cap to 85,000, with the permits set to expire on New Year’s Day 2019. EV owners will still have solo HOV access, as there is no cap set for those permits.
Speaking of EVs, another amendment in the spending bill would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to “develop a plan and map of a potential national network of electric vehicle corridors and recharging infrastructure” in collaboration with the automotive industry and outside parties according to its sponsor, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.