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California ends hybrid carpool lane program

July 1, 2011 at 12:48 PM
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SACRAMENTO, July 1 (UPI) -- California is ending a program that allowed hybrid cars like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight to use carpool lanes when driven by a lone driver, authorities say.

Hybrid cars bearing a yellow "Access OK" sticker issued by the state Department of Motor Vehicles will no longer be able to take advantage of the carpool lanes as of July 1, USA Today reported.

The sticker allowing solo driving in the so-called "high occupancy vehicle" lanes was so popular that when the DMV stopped issuing new stickers, the prices of older hybrid model cars rose higher than new versions of the same cars whose owners no longer could get the stickers, the newspaper said.

Drivers hoping to get a break from traffic jams have a new option, though: buying a hybrid using newer technology, such as the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt or the Nissan Leaf battery car.

"A new Green HOV sticker program will be in effect as of January 1, 2012, to promote the use of the next generation of hybrid and other technologies," the DMV said.

Meanwhile, some vehicles already on the market, including electrics and natural-gas-fueled vehicles, can qualify for white stickers that provide HOV solo-occupant use until Jan. 1, 2015.

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