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Hybrid vehicles threaten commuters' trip in the fast lane
San Diego Union -Tribune ^ | 7/8/05 | Brian Westley - AP

Posted on 07/08/2005 8:30:36 AM PDT by NormsRevenge

ARLINGTON, Va. – Instead of crawling out of bed at 4 a.m. to beat the morning rush, Frank Murphy sleeps late these days. He says he owes it all to his hybrid car – and a law that has some of his fellow commuters upset. Drivers of the environmentally friendly cars are allowed to cruise solo in Virginia's car pool lanes, slicing Murphy's daily two-hour commute in half. And since buying a hybrid 18 months ago, Murphy is leaving his home as much as three hours later.

"The quality of life has gone up tremendously," he said.

But Murphy's joy is a source of irritation for his co-worker, Kristine Johnson, who does not own a hybrid. To travel in the car pool lane, she lingers at a commuter lot until two strangers agree to ride with her.

The inconvenience pays off less than it used to: Johnson complains that hybrids are making car pool lanes as congested as regular lanes.

"It's not fair," Johnson said. "In the afternoon it's all hybrids around me. I used to be able to go home in 30 minutes. Now it takes 45."

So goes the debate between Virginia's car-poolers and hybrid owners. Lawmakers say the hybrid rule wasn't meant to clog the car pool lanes, but to encourage people to buy the cars, which run on a low-polluting combination of electricity and gasoline.

Normally, the federal government would withdraw highway money from a state that gave hybrids commuter-lane privileges. But Virginia has a special waiver while Congress considers allowing the states to make their own rules for hybrids. Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia and Florida are poised to move ahead with similar incentives if the Senate passes a long-delayed highway bill.

California Assemblywoman Fran Pavley wrote legislation to open her state's car pool lanes to single-occupant hybrids. She said the bill contains "numerous safeguards" to avoid replicating Virginia's woes.

For example, California's Department of Motor Vehicles would limit the number of hybrids in the commuter lanes by issuing only 75,000 special decals. State transportation officials would review the law periodically, and it would only apply to hybrids that get at least 45 miles per gallon.

Brian D. Taylor, director of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies, argues against linking hybrids with car pool lanes, which he says exist for an unrelated purpose: taking cars off the road.

"It would be sort of like saying you should allow nurses and school teachers to exceed the speed limit because they contribute positive things to society," Taylor said.

Joe Waldman, general manager of northern Virginia's Landmark Honda, said officials should not be so quick to blame crowded car pool lanes on hybrids. He noted that solo drivers in regular vehicles continue to violate the rules, despite stepped-up enforcement and a new state law doubling some fines to as much as $1,000 for a fourth offense.

But Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Joan Morris said, "Even if we got rid of all the violators tomorrow, we'd still have a capacity problem."

In April 2003, about 2,500 hybrid drivers in Virginia registered their cars and asked for "clean fuel" license plates, allowing them to use the car pool lanes, Morris said. By May of this year, the number had more than tripled – to about 9,000.

Meanwhile, Murphy, the Virginia hybrid owner, continues to sleep late, while Virginia transportation officials consider compromises such as letting hybrids use the lanes only at times when traffic is less congested.

Murphy said it would be ridiculous to end the hybrid exemption altogether, but agrees something's got to give.

"I do have to admit, there are a lot of (hybrids) out there," he said.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: carpool; commuters; fastlane; hov; hybrid; threaten; vehicles; virginia
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1 posted on 07/08/2005 8:30:36 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
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To: NormsRevenge

How is this any different from allowing single-rider motorcycles in carpool/HOV lanes (apart from probably slightly reducing accidents involving motorcycles by taking them out of the reach of inattentive commuters)?


2 posted on 07/08/2005 8:34:48 AM PDT by Little Pig (Is it time for "Cowboys and Muslims" yet?)
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To: NormsRevenge

Car-pool lanes are taxation without representation.

We pay for the construction and maintenance yet are not allowed to use them.


3 posted on 07/08/2005 8:35:20 AM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: NormsRevenge; All

What's next - letting people with "Hillary 2008" stickers cruise solo in the carpool lane?


4 posted on 07/08/2005 8:37:18 AM PDT by governsleastgovernsbest (Watching the Today Show sI nce 2002 so you don't have to.)
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To: NormsRevenge

Aren't hybrids running on gas at highway speed?


5 posted on 07/08/2005 8:37:40 AM PDT by keat (Posting code without previewing since 2004)
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To: edcoil
Car-pool lanes are taxation without representation.

Not quite. Politicans who have been elected make these discriminatory laws.

We pay for the construction and maintenance yet are not allowed to use them.

True to an extent. Your money is taken from you (at gunpoint if necessary) and the people who took it told you they would use it to make roads. But they are not required to do so. They also get to make the rules for use of the roads they do make.

Private roads would eliminate the problem. But there are more important problems first.

6 posted on 07/08/2005 8:42:29 AM PDT by Protagoras (Now that the frog is fully cooked, how would you like it served?)
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To: NormsRevenge
The inconvenience pays off less than it used to: Johnson complains that hybrids are making car pool lanes as congested as regular lanes.

"It's not fair," Johnson said. "In the afternoon it's all hybrids around me. I used to be able to go home in 30 minutes. Now it takes 45."

I'll bet these people are going to really start screaming when the hybrid vehicles include a larger percentage of SUVs. Ford already has a hybrid version of the Escape on the dealers' lots, and others are sure to follow.

7 posted on 07/08/2005 8:42:32 AM PDT by Charles Martel
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To: NormsRevenge

"Brian D. Taylor, director of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies, argues against linking hybrids with car pool lanes, which he says exist for an unrelated purpose: taking cars off the road."

Yes, and part of the reason for taking cars off the road is to increase the fuel efficiency per passenger mile. Hybrids also do this.

"In April 2003, about 2,500 hybrid drivers in Virginia registered their cars and asked for 'clean fuel' license plates, allowing them to use the car pool lanes, Morris said. By May of this year, the number had more than tripled – to about 9,000."

Even if ALL NINE THOUSAND HYBRIDS ARE ON THE SAME ROAD AT THE SAME TIME, this isn't what's increasing congestion in the HOV lanes in Northern Virginia. These are roads that see several times that amount of traffic in an hour. As an example, I-66 in Northern Virginia sees nearly 200,000 vehicles per day.

Non-issue.


8 posted on 07/08/2005 8:43:30 AM PDT by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: edcoil

Sorry, but its not taxation without representation. Elected representatives created the law. That would be akin to me saying that because I can't fly the space shuttle or an F-16 I shouldn't be taxed for it.


9 posted on 07/08/2005 8:44:14 AM PDT by 3dognight
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To: NormsRevenge

BUILD MORE LANES! QUIT WITH THE SOCIAL ENGINEERING PROJECTS AND SOLVE THE PROBLEMS WE HAVE!


10 posted on 07/08/2005 8:44:17 AM PDT by SShultz460
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To: keat

Base on my experience (I have a Prius) it varies depending on whether one is accelerating or not. When going at a constant speed sometimes just the battery will be providing the power.


11 posted on 07/08/2005 8:44:20 AM PDT by NYorkerInHouston
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To: NormsRevenge
"2 hr commute".

I can see right now yer mind ain't right.

12 posted on 07/08/2005 8:46:12 AM PDT by biblewonk (If you don't get the bible, how can you be a Christian?)
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To: NormsRevenge

I wonder what they would say if we start filling the carpool lanes with Hummers (with the legal 2+ passengers)?


13 posted on 07/08/2005 8:46:46 AM PDT by mnehring (If you don't root for the team, get out of the stadium.)
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To: edcoil
Agreed. Carpool lanes are also highly discriminatory. For some of us, carpooling is impossible because of the nature of our work. Sales reps, freelance writers, salaried or hourly wage folks who have irregular hours, delivery drivers, independent contractors -- those are just a few professions that come to mind of people who are DISCRIMINATED AGAINST with carpool lanes because the nature of their work makes it impossible, or extremely problematic, for them to arrange for sharing rides.

The truth is that a large percentage of those in the carpool lanes are not going to or from work -- they're doing something social, which is why there are two in the car: mother and daughter going shopping, husband and wife headed off to some event, couple of friends going to the beach or the mall -- while hardworking folks are crawling along at half the speed and buring twice the fuel. IT'S DISGUSTING. Carpool lanes are a fraud, a piece of social engineering that has failed but which its supporters refuse to analyze dispassionately.

14 posted on 07/08/2005 8:46:48 AM PDT by Finny (God continue to Bless President G.W. Bush with wisdom, popularity, safety and success.)
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To: NormsRevenge
"It would be sort of like saying you should allow nurses and school teachers to exceed the speed limit because they contribute positive things to society," Taylor said.

An excellent analogy!
15 posted on 07/08/2005 8:47:35 AM PDT by andyk (Go Matt Kenseth!)
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To: NormsRevenge

I don't understand the concept of HOV lanes. If you allow more people to sit in traffic with their cars idling, doesn't that create more emissions then letting everyone use the extra lane(s)? I'm admittedly science-stupid so please go easy on me. : )


16 posted on 07/08/2005 8:49:10 AM PDT by Millee (So you're a feminist......isn't that cute??)
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To: NormsRevenge
The idiot idea known as the "Diamond Lanes" in California has shown itself to be a dismal failure.

The diamond lanes were supposed to reduce traffic, and thereby reduce gas consumption and pollution. They have done neither. People don't use them, because most people cannot routinely coordinate schedules that way. Nor do they want to. So they end up sitting in traffic jammed up next to empty diamond lanes, taking forever to get to work, and spewing pollution, since idling, slow moving stop and go traffic causes more pollution than moving at freeway speeds.

Hybrids do both: reduce fuel consumption and put out less pollution. That is the rationale for them being in the diamond lane. But the truth is...the diamond lanes are not necessary to achieve that goal. The technology is.

Open the diamond lanes, press automobile technology to reduce fuel consumption, and let the market take over.

The diamond lanes are one more failed liberal "program" which did not work. But the liberal bureaucrats and ideologues who dreamed it up will never admit to that, because to admit it would show them for the fools they are.

17 posted on 07/08/2005 8:51:24 AM PDT by Regulator
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To: NormsRevenge

I would bet that the real culprits of crowding on HOV lanes are the single-occupant vehicles breaking the law, not the hybrid drivers.

As for those of you griping about the HOV lanes and the suggestion that they discriminate against you--is it not true that when the state sought federal funds to build those lanes, the state agreed to designate them HOV. Now that they are built, wouldn't it be going back on the bargain? You can argue against the policy behind federal support for HOV lanes all you want, but after the state has spent the money and you've built the lane, it's a little late to revise the deal.


18 posted on 07/08/2005 8:54:35 AM PDT by drb9
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
Did someone say Hillary 2008?


19 posted on 07/08/2005 8:55:36 AM PDT by WakeUpAndVote (Member of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy since 1992!)
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To: governsleastgovernsbest
"What's next - letting people with "Hillary 2008" stickers cruise solo in the carpool lane?"

Or in Red states...trucks with mirror image stickers on the FRONT bumper that say "Run Hillary Run"

20 posted on 07/08/2005 8:56:09 AM PDT by spokeshave (Strategery + Schardenfreude = Stratenschardenfreudery)
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To: Finny

Here is CA, carpool lanes are used less then 10% of the time "off-hour" and at best, are only used 37% of the time at "peak" times while the goverment forces traffic jams on everyone else.

If I where governor for one day, I would remove and end all car-pool lanes.


21 posted on 07/08/2005 8:56:44 AM PDT by edcoil (Reality doesn't say much - doesn't need too)
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To: Little Pig
From my experience I don't see a whole lot of Motorcycles in the HOV3 lanes in DC. The ones that do are typical motorcyclists. They just zip down the center lane :) If I had a bike i'd do the same thing.

Hybrids are a defeat of the entire idea and premise of the carpool lanes. No one in VA says they are for the environment. If the Politicians are saying it they are lying through their teeth. It's for traffic appeasement and also serves as a handy escape route out of DC for the "important" folks that work there. A hybrid driving on the HOV lanes kills that entire concept and renders the roads useless. Anyone can use these roads, just depends how much you want to inconvenience yourself. There is slugging, carpooling, or even going to work early or later than everyone else! I hop on when it opens at 9 and leave work at 6 to get back. I don't like planning my day around the HOV lanes, but that's DC life.
22 posted on 07/08/2005 8:57:17 AM PDT by tfecw (Vote Democrat, It's easier than working)
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To: edcoil
The CA carpool lanes don't "open?"

the DC one they are talking about is restricted from 600-900 then anyone can use it before or after that. Then at noon They switch the direction (goes south bound) and anyone can use it until 400ish - 600ish and it switches back north at midnight...I think.
23 posted on 07/08/2005 9:01:23 AM PDT by tfecw (Vote Democrat, It's easier than working)
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To: NormsRevenge

The law of Unintended Consequences...


24 posted on 07/08/2005 9:04:23 AM PDT by Paradox (Ipsum Pablum)
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To: tfecw

I have seen bikers in the HOV lanes here in DFW during the rush, mostly because splitting lanes in some areas of the metroplex is a death wish. I have used them myself in my B.N. period (Before Nuptials).

I wish I still could, but DW feels that I would be endangering my ability to provide for the family by riding rather than driving.

I need stats on accidents per mile, injuries per mile, and fatalities per mile for bikes and cars, factoring out bike accidents caused by idiot riding (wheelying on the freeway, racing, etc). Any thoughts on where I can find these?


25 posted on 07/08/2005 9:05:42 AM PDT by Little Pig (Is it time for "Cowboys and Muslims" yet?)
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To: NYorkerInHouston; NormsRevenge
When going at a constant speed sometimes just the battery will be providing the power.

When driving at a constant speed, the electric motor may kick in by mistake sometimes, but if you are truly driving at a constant speed, your hybrid is not improving your mileage. Also, you say that "just the battery" is providing power. I don't think this is possible. I understand that the max depletion rate on the prius battery is only 15 bhp for 10 s. This wouldn't even be enough to over come the rolling resistance that your car experiences at highway speeds.

26 posted on 07/08/2005 9:08:38 AM PDT by rkhampton
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To: Millee

What's HOV? Sorry, we don't have carpool lanes here so I'm unfamiliar with this term.


27 posted on 07/08/2005 9:10:33 AM PDT by GOP_Proud (...when the Iraqi soldiers stand up, we will stand down...GWB)
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To: GOP_Proud
Heavily Occupied Vehicles. So HOV-3 means you need at least 3 people in the car to use it.
28 posted on 07/08/2005 9:15:15 AM PDT by tfecw (Vote Democrat, It's easier than working)
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To: GOP_Proud

HOV = High Occupancy Vehicle

The idea being to encourage car-pooling or to get the most out of a vehicle by making sure it is as full as possible. I think buses are excluded from most HOV systems though (both public transport buses and private carriers).


29 posted on 07/08/2005 9:15:50 AM PDT by Little Pig (Is it time for "Cowboys and Muslims" yet?)
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To: GOP_Proud

In CO, they're called H(igh) O(ccupancy) V(ehicle) lanes. Same thing as "diamond lanes".


30 posted on 07/08/2005 9:16:29 AM PDT by Millee (So you're a feminist......isn't that cute??)
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To: Little Pig
Hmmm I don't know about the stats, but do agree it's dangerous. Maybe the Dept of Transportation for which ever state you want to check out?
31 posted on 07/08/2005 9:16:35 AM PDT by tfecw (Vote Democrat, It's easier than working)
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To: NormsRevenge

All of this is funny, but not nearly as funny as folks who ride with mannequins in the car to circumvent the rules. That is quite a solution, if you have convincing dummies.

[Insert DNC/John Kerry/DU joke here.]


32 posted on 07/08/2005 9:21:48 AM PDT by AbeKrieger (Islam is the virus that causes al-Qaeda.)
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To: rkhampton
if you are truly driving at a constant speed, your hybrid is not improving your mileage.

So it's just a "feel good" law that isn't really helping the environment and may, in fact, be hurting it by discouraging carpooling. Two hybrids driven separately pollute more that one conventional Honda Civic with two passengers. Also, where will all the batteries go in 10 years?
33 posted on 07/08/2005 9:21:59 AM PDT by keat (Posting code without previewing since 2004)
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To: edcoil

18 wheelers pay tons more in taxes and many of them are regulated to only ONE lane of traffic and in many cases not allowed on certain interstates or freeways because of "hazardous loads"...your whining is only a yip compared to the long hualers cries...


34 posted on 07/08/2005 9:25:10 AM PDT by antivenom (If your not living on the edge, you're taking up too much damn space!!!)
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To: tfecw

Nah, NHTSA and DOT, for all their purported unbiasedness, tend to report stats to disfavor bikes, as in "deaths for over-40 bikers rose over the period of 2001-2004", with no acknowledgement of whether the overall number of bikers over 40 also rose during that period. So, did the percentage of over-40 bikers that were killed out of the whole group go up, or did it stay the same and just the raw numbers go up? In all likelihood, the percentage of over-40 bikers killed dropped relative to the total number of over-40 bikers, but we may never know unless we get access to the raw data, and maybe not even then, depending on how the study was run.


35 posted on 07/08/2005 9:27:01 AM PDT by Little Pig (Is it time for "Cowboys and Muslims" yet?)
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To: keat

10 years? Try 4-5.


36 posted on 07/08/2005 9:27:52 AM PDT by Little Pig (Is it time for "Cowboys and Muslims" yet?)
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To: edcoil

Some pigs are more equal than others.


37 posted on 07/08/2005 9:29:13 AM PDT by bannie (The government which robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend upon the support of Paul.)
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To: keat
Two hybrids driven separately pollute more that one conventional Honda Civic with two passengers.

Good point.

I've always insisted that hybrid technology, after you factor in issues concerning the batteries, does not make sense on small passenger cars. And, as far as I know, it isn't used in the only instances where it would make sense, i.e., city buses and delivery trucks.

38 posted on 07/08/2005 9:33:48 AM PDT by rkhampton
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To: governsleastgovernsbest

How about a lane of oncoming traffic?


39 posted on 07/08/2005 9:35:07 AM PDT by kallisti
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To: rkhampton

I get a steady 45-47 miles per gallon on the highway and thats driving with traffic, around here 65 to 75 miles per hour. If the flow of traffic is around 55 to 65 miles per hour I can get 50-55 miles per gallon easy. Something is improving the mileage. The prius battery does kick on by itself not for very long, but it does. The car can according to Toyota travel 1 to 2 miles at 30 miles per hour on battery alone and I've gone up 7 stories in the parking garage at work using the just the battery though it was drained to the 20% mark.


40 posted on 07/08/2005 9:36:25 AM PDT by NYorkerInHouston
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To: Little Pig

My R1100RTA flys at twice the speed of those electric things.


41 posted on 07/08/2005 9:38:27 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Washington DC RINO Hunting Guide)
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To: bmwcyle

And my ZX-11 could also manage double their speed, and at traffic speeds still get over 40mpg.


42 posted on 07/08/2005 9:42:24 AM PDT by Little Pig (Is it time for "Cowboys and Muslims" yet?)
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To: NormsRevenge
For example, California's Department of Motor Vehicles would limit the number of hybrids in the commuter lanes by issuing only 75,000 special decals. State transportation officials would review the law periodically, and it would only apply to hybrids that get at least 45 miles per gallon.

That should be interesting. The only hybrid that actually gets more than 45 mpg is the Honda Insight.

43 posted on 07/08/2005 9:43:05 AM PDT by B Knotts
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To: bmwcyle

And I could get 4-5 new zx-11s for what one hybrid cost.


44 posted on 07/08/2005 9:43:18 AM PDT by Little Pig (Is it time for "Cowboys and Muslims" yet?)
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To: NormsRevenge
slicing Murphy's daily two-hour commute in half. And since buying a hybrid 18 months ago, Murphy is leaving his home as much as three hours later.

Does this add up? One less hour of driving, sleeps three hours later. More media math...
45 posted on 07/08/2005 9:46:06 AM PDT by over3Owithabrain
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To: Little Pig

They add more electronics to a car. Stuff in a big battery. Then they get into the HOV lane and drive slow.


46 posted on 07/08/2005 9:48:23 AM PDT by bmwcyle (Washington DC RINO Hunting Guide)
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To: NormsRevenge

I propose a special high speed lane for my American V8 powered Pontiac.

I use less gas when I'm not stuck behind slow moving Hondas, Nissans, etc.

Actually - I should be be thanked by libs for using more gas. The punitive taxes here in NYS help support all their stupid social programs!


47 posted on 07/08/2005 9:49:02 AM PDT by Made In The USA (Tell me the SCOTUS was just kidding?!)
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To: rkhampton
Re: hybrids:

Most the power of an automobile is for acceleration. In a standard auto this requires that the engine be sized for such. In a hybrid, the engine provides cruising speed and battery charging. The acceleration power is provided by the addition of electric power. The overall engine size is reduced and therefore consumes less energy. This is why they have diesel-electric trains, (where the idea came from.)

48 posted on 07/08/2005 9:53:51 AM PDT by D Rider
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To: NormsRevenge
Drivers of the environmentally friendly cars are allowed to cruise solo in Virginia's car pool lanes, slicing Murphy's daily two-hour commute in half. And since buying a hybrid 18 months ago, Murphy is leaving his home as much as three hours later.

This makes no sense. If Murphy's two-hour commute is cut to one hour, how does allow him to leave for work three hours later? What am I missing, other than another "journalist" who doesn't know how to write?

49 posted on 07/08/2005 9:54:31 AM PDT by Fresh Wind
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To: SShultz460

"BUILD MORE LANES! QUIT WITH THE SOCIAL ENGINEERING PROJECTS AND SOLVE THE PROBLEMS WE HAVE!"

Not possible in much of LA. The freeways are already pretty wide in many places.

I've heard talk of adding a second layer, and that might work.


50 posted on 07/08/2005 9:57:43 AM PDT by highball ("I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." -- Thomas Jefferson)
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