California solo hybrid drivers to lose much loved carpool lane privilege

Honda Civic Hybrid - HOV Lane

Besides feeling like they’re saving the world, some people purchase a hybrid vehicle for extra privileges – especially in California. The state lets hybrid owners enjoy the highway carpool lanes even when they’re traveling solo. However, as the saying goes, nothing lasts forever.

85,000 hybrid owners in California will see their special sticker, which let’s them drive alone in the carpool lane, expire by Jan. 1, 2011. All the stickers were originally set to expire in 2008, but the Legislature extended that deadline to another 3 years. There are still proposals in Sacramento to extend the deadline, but they would exclude most of the hybrids that originally qualified for the program – including the Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid and the original Honda Insight.

“We’re bummed,” Cathy Margolin, president of the 250-member Orange County Prius Club, told the LA Times. “I drive from Newport Beach to Torrance to teach four times a week, and it saves me an hour every day on the 405.”

But losing their special stickers is more than just a simple inconvenience. The ability to fly solo down the carpool lane added $1,000 to $2,000 to the value of a used hybrid. Dealers say that they are already seeing that incentive to purchase a hybrid fade away as the deadline gets closer.

“I had no idea they were going to expire,” said Sharon Delugach of Los Angeles, a 2003 Prius owner. “I thought I was set for life.”

No Sharon you weren’t.

– By: Kap Shah

Source: LA Times