Originally Posted by tony20009
I wonder how long that'll last? In truth, I would have thought that by now, so many in NOVA would buy hybrids and thus use 66 and 395's HOV lanes during rush hour that the governments would have ended the hybrid dispensation of which you speak. I live downtown and usually work outside the USA, so I almost never encounter bad traffic; maybe rush hour commuting around DC isn't as bad as I think.
That's a good question; I don't think anyone knows for sure. It was originally supposed to expire in 2006, but it has been reauthorized every year since.
And you're right, there are so many hybrids that it is starting to be an issue. The HOV lanes on 66 (particularly further west of the city) are clogged with cars, almost as bad as the regular lanes.
But, I think they've kept it for a couple of reasons: 1) money from the special tags generates a lot of additional revenue - for both the general fund, as well as a special assessment for the VA state police to enforce the HOV lanes; 2) when the legislature considers whether or not to re-up the deal, there is a very vocal citizenry (most likely those that have invested in hybrids) that engages elected officials to push the to reauthorize. And 3), although this is absolute and complete speculation, I wouldn't be surprised if VA car dealers - including Honda/Toyota, etc. lobby heavily to keep the exemption. I have to imagine that hybrid sales are tied directly to the ability to use the HOV lanes.