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Who's in the carpool lane?

July 08, 2007

Re "Driving for dollars," Opinion, July 3

Why does Heather Mac Donald recommend that carpoolers be certified and receive transponders that would let them pass toll-free? Why not let money be its own reward?

Without any certification, individuals in carpools would each pay less to use the freeway than if they didn't carpool, and the more people in the carpool, the bigger the savings. That surely would be motivation enough. Why incur the bureaucratic headache and cost of certifying carpools?

TIM CUNNINGHAM

Santa Barbara

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What does Mac Donald, an intellectual from New York City, know about Los Angeles freeways, and what has she learned about toll lanes? In both cases, not much.

She's right about Caltrans' carpool lanes: They don't perpetuate carpooling.

Mac Donald would turn these into high-occupancy toll lanes. So-called HOT lanes are the preferred mode for right-wing geniuses who ignore the failure of Orange County's experiment with toll schemes.

HOT lanes would do no more to increase capacity or performance on Los Angeles freeways than carpool lanes do now.

Zoning, planning and rational development would solve more traffic problems permanently than all the HOT lanes we could build. Of course, conservatives generally hate smart growth, but bringing that argument to transportation planning today will contribute far more to the conversation than her HOT-lane prattle.

PETE VAN NUYS

San Clemente

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Mac Donald makes a logical argument that newly proposed carpool lanes should be designated as toll roads. She included several examples of carloads that do not qualify as carpools. I was surprised to find that Mac Donald declined to mention the most recent, and by far the most absurd, allowance into the carpool lane: solo drivers of fuel-efficient vehicles.

These users completely defeat the purpose of carpool-only lanes, which is to reduce the number of cars on the road. This crowd of precious individuals is clogging carpool lanes but is being excused merely because their cars spew out a little less garbage than other drivers' cars.

Before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority even touches the new proposal for additional lanes, it needs to seriously consider enforcing the law on the existing ones: carpool lanes are for car-POOLS.

ERIC KLEINSASSER

Glendale

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