* Michael Lawler's July 13 letter questions the merit of the El Monte Busway, which has been carrying buses and car pools on the San Bernardino Freeway since the 1970s. Because the letter perpetuates common misconceptions about car-pool lanes, I am compelled to respond.
The El Monte Busway appears to be underutilized because it is an extraordinarily efficient people mover. Current occupancy figures indicate that 5,700 people are moved through the busway during peak hours, compared to 1,950 people moved through a regular freeway lane.
It was suggested that this high-occupancy-vehicle lane should be opened to regular traffic. Given the numbers above, you can see the freeway would grind to a virtual halt during rush hour. This would also severely hamper bus operations and take away the time savings that encourages many people to try ride-sharing.
We at Caltrans realize that some people cannot ride-share. But the solo commuter must realize that the addition of an HOV lane also relieves congestion on regular freeway lanes. For every vehicle using the busway, at least three single-occupant vehicles are removed from the freeway.
This is why Caltrans is embarking on a $6-billion program to add an HOV lane on just about every freeway in the Los Angeles area over the next few years.
JERRY B. BAXTER, District Director
Caltrans, Los Angeles