California To End Carpool Lane Benefit For Hybrid Owners

From 2005 through 2007, the state of California made a pretty tempting offer to get drivers behind the wheels of hybrid cars: Buy one and you’ll get a sticker that allows you to cruise in the carpool lane without having to have that annoying other passenger (or mannequin) next to you. It was like a VIP pass on the highway. But those halcyon days are about to end.

On July 1, that yellow stickers adorning around 85,000 hybrid cars in California will only serve as a reminder to those drivers that they too once had access to the speedier carpool lane.

“I’m dreading July 1,” one Prius driver who commutes 90 miles a day tells the L.A. Times. “We’re all going to feel the full wrath of the L.A. traffic beast.”

Or you could carpool. Just saying.

Those who’ve sat idling in traffic while hybrid drivers zipped by aren’t exactly boo-hooing about the news. “I don’t sympathize with someone who has to adjust their schedule after having the advantage of the carpool lane for years,” one such driver tells the Times. “They’ll just get the same awful L.A. traffic problems that the rest of us drivers have to deal with every day.”

According to the Times, hybrids with the carpool sticker have typically re-sold for more than $1,000 over the price of similar used hybrids, just for the carpool lane access.

But all hope is not lost for those willing to pay just for the privilege of not having to share a commute with another human being. The state has been offering white stickers — for all-electric or natural gas-powered vehicles — that grant drivers access to the coveted carpool lane. These stickers will not expire until 2015.

And then the state is considering a green sticker next year for hybrids that meet stricter emission requirements.

Yellow hybrid stickers for carpool lanes set to expire [L.A. Times]