Sunday, October 26, 2008

Why HOV/Lexus Lanes are a bad idea for the Tollway.

First we need to define the term Lexus Lane
Lexus lane ( layn) n. A highway lane that is normally restricted during rush hour to vehicles carrying multiple passengers, but that can also be used for a fee by single-occupant vehicles.

Here are some of the issues with the plan.

From info from the Sun Times

First it is not an increase in capacity, in California and other places they only add HOV when it adds capacity. They have found in HOV lanes don't really work out when the are used to replace existing capacity (you don't add any new lanes).

Currently up to 75% of carpools are in fact family members who would be riding together anyway known as "fampooling" info here

Unless you are going to block off the HOV lanes (make them basically one lane express lanes) you are looking at some real safety risks, why? Well if you make the HOV lane the left lane then you have to either make them express lanes that skip some exits or you are going to have to carefully design ingress and egress so that a car can safely get out of the left lane and cut across traffic to get to an exit. Think about what happens now with open road tolling and people busting the move to get over.. For more info see the Texas DOT also the NBC Nightly News July 19, 2005. (note: The Texas data was with paint-striped HOV lanes)

I think you will end up with backups at the egress points as faster moving traffic has to slow to try and get over into the 'regular' lanes that are moving slower. Close your eyes and imagine this trying to work.

The "Star Wars" part. I can't think of a better way of putting this but I don't think and can't see the technology existing any time soon that will be able to consistently determine if you are in an HOV lane as a multi-passenger car (classic carpool) or as a car looking to pay extra to use the lane. Yes the governor's spokesman Lucio Guerrero made reference to 'heat sensors', however that is full of issues.

Yes, there is some testing of this sort of thing being done in the UK by Leeds University, but it is early days, and it looks like it has to look through the windshield to work.

So you want to base a billing system on something that the only current version of I can find is dependent on a device seeing all of the occupants of the car through the windshield and is only 90% accurate? Looking forward to the court challenges for that. My kid was asleep in the back seat, wife picked the wrong time to adjust the floormat, can't see my kids in the back of the minivan, there were people in the back of my limo.

More on this tech can be found here.

Then that all having been said, I don't see how you could fine someone for violating the rules just using a thermal image, why? KYLLO v. UNITED STATES, the Supreme Court ruled in a drug case that thermal imaging did constitute a search and therefore required a warrant.

Assuming you can get the detection technology to work you still have the basic problem of 'Take a Lane'. That is you are not adding any more lanes.

It will just mean you are sticking more traffic into fewer lanes and creating a single lane that will mostly be used by families and people willing to pony up more cash. The remaining lanes will just used more by trucks, people from out of state and the poor increasing their traffic until more people just pay the extra to use the Lexus Lane until the whole program ends up a wash. The only advantage is that the toll authority has collected more money.

Various entities that have considered converting existing lanes to HOV and decided against it or did convert existing lanes to HOV and then had to roll back the decision include.. Ontario, New York (see page 1,2), California (the Santa Monica Freeway in 1976) and the Dulles Toll Road in Washington DC, Washington State (references here).

From “Report on the Suitability of High-Occupancy Vehicle Lanes in the Greater Vancouver Regional District” by Ian Fisher. Transport 2000 BC. May 1997.
The Santa Monica and Dulles examples provide clear indications that, once lanes are available to general traffic, converting them to HOV lanes is at least contentious and most likely politically not viable

It would seem that 'take a lane' doesn't work and hasn't ever really worked.

It's a dumb idea that needs to be stopped now.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and we won't pull you over for not wearing a seatbelt. Red light cameras? For your safety. iPass? We won't use that information for anything other than assessing tolls...

Seriously, why are you even wasting your time applying reason to the State of Illinois? The state authorities are going to do whatever the hell they want, regardless of what any of us commoners wants, needs or desires.

If everyone who complained about what was going on spent that time organizing their lives so they didn't have to live in Illinois, the only ones left in the state would be lemmings and people on the take.

Oh wait....