BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   SB 535|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 535
          Author:   Yee (D)
          Amended:  5/6/09
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 4/28/09
          AYES:  Lowenthal, Ashburn, DeSaulnier, Harman,  
            Hollingsworth, Kehoe, Wolk
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Huff, Oropeza, Pavley, Simitian

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8


          SUBJECT  :    Vehicles:  high-occupancy vehicle lanes

           SOURCE  :     General Motors


           DIGEST  :    This bill allows a vehicle that meets that stats  
          super ultra-low emission vehicle standard for exhaust  
          emissions and the federally inherently low-emission vehicle  
          standard for evaporative emissions to access high-occupancy  
          vehicle lanes regardless of vehicle occupancy until the  
          Director of the Department of Transportation submits a  
          notice of determination to the Secretary of State that  
          federal law does not authorize the state to allow these  
          vehicles to use high-occupancy vehicles lanes regardless of  
          vehicle occupancy.

           ANALYSIS  :    In 1999, the Legislature passed and the  
          governor signed AB 71 (Cunneen), Chapter 330, to allow the  
          following low-emission vehicles to access HOV lanes,  
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          regardless of vehicle occupancy:

          1. A vehicle that meets the state's super ultra-low  
             emission vehicle (SULEV) standard for exhaust emissions  
             and the federal inherently low-emission vehicle (ILEV)  
             standard for evaporative emissions.  

          2. A vehicle that was produced during the 2004 model year  
             or earlier that meets the state's ultra-low emission  
             vehicle (ULEV) standard for exhaust emissions and the  
             federal ILEV standard. 

          To differentiate these vehicles, the Department of Motor  
          Vehicles (DMV) issues white stickers to be affixed on the  
          vehicle.  There is no limit on the number of these vehicles  
          that may be issued white stickers.  To date, DMV has issued  
          9,099 sets of white stickers.

          In 2004, AB 2628 (Pavley), Chapter 725, allowed the  
          following hybrid vehicles to access HOV lanes, pending  
          approval by the federal government:

          1. A hybrid vehicle or an alternative fuel vehicle that  
             meets the state's advanced technology partial  
             zero-emission standard (AT PZEV) standard for criteria  
             pollutant emissions and has a 45 miles per gallon (mpg)  
             or greater fuel economy highway rating. 

          2. A hybrid vehicle that was produced during the 2004 model  
             year or earlier that has a 45 mpg or greater fuel  
             economy highway rating and meets the state's ULEV,  
             SULEV, or partial zero-emission vehicle (PZEV)  
             standards. 

          The DMV issues these vehicles yellow stickers.  The number  
          of vehicles that may be issued yellow stickers was  
          ultimately capped at 85,000, a limit which was reached in  
          2007.  

          The authority to access HOV lanes expires for all four  
          types of vehicles on January 1, 2011.   
          
          Existing law requires the California Department of  
          Transportation (Caltrans) to assess, according to a  

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          specified timeframe, whether HOV lanes have experienced  
          significant degradation due to access by hybrid vehicles  
          with yellow stickers.  Caltrans is authorized to restrict  
          single-occupant vehicles with either white or yellow  
          stickers from accessing segments of HOV lanes during  
          periods of peak congestion if it finds that the lane has a  
          specified level of service, the operation of these vehicles  
          will significantly increase congestion, and it is not  
          feasible to alleviate congestion by other means.  

          This bill allows a vehicle that meets that stat's super  
          ultra-low emission vehicle standard for exhaust emissions  
          and the federally inherently low-emission vehicle standard  
          for evaporative emissions to access high-occupancy vehicle  
          lanes regardless of vehicle occupancy until the Director of  
          the Department of Transportation submits a notice of  
          determination to the Secretary of State that federal law  
          does not authorize the state to allow these to use  
          high-occupancy vehicles lanes regardless of vehicle  
          occupancy.

           Background
           
           HOV lane degradation  .  The Federal Highways Administration  
          (FHWA) granted conditional approval to allow hybrid  
          vehicles in HOV lanes, as authorized by AB 2628 (Pavley),  
          in April 2006.  FHWA required Caltrans to monitor and  
          report on the performance of HOV lanes and to take steps to  
          address degradation (i.e., congestion), if necessary.  

          In July 2006, after 50,000 yellow stickers were issued to  
          hybrid vehicles under the program, Caltrans assessed  
          congestion in the HOV lanes using both the state and  
          federal standards of performance.  Under the state  
          standard, Caltrans found that the number of congested HOV  
          lane segments increased from 7 to 12 percent.  Under the  
          federal standard, Caltrans found that approximately 46  
          percent of HOV lane segments operated under degraded  
          conditions.  While the increased congestion could not be  
          attributed solely to single-occupant hybrid vehicles  
          accessing the lanes, FHWA nonetheless asserted that these  
          vehicles did not have to be the cause of degradation for  
          Caltrans to take action to reduce HOV lane congestion and  
          requested that Caltrans develop a plan for improving the  

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          performance of HOV lanes.
           
           Caltrans submitted the California High Occupancy Vehicle  
          Lane Degradation Reduction Plan to FHWA in August 2007.   
          The plan outlines short- and long-term measures to improve  
          HOV lane performance, including increased enforcement,  
          improved system management, infrastructure improvements,  
          public education, and, if necessary, a prohibition of  
          single-occupant hybrid vehicles from accessing the most  
          congested segments of the HOV-lane network.  

          Following the submittal of that plan, Caltrans updated its  
          analysis of HOV lane degradation and submitted a  
          supplemental report to FHWA in September 2008.  This  
          updated analysis found that, based on the federal standard,  
          congestion increased on HOV lanes from 46 percent to 54  
          percent.  Given the growth in both population and number of  
          registered vehicles, degradation is only likely to worsen.   
          The Department of Finance estimated California's population  
          to be 33,873,086 in 2000 and 38,049,462 in 2008, a 12.3  
          percent increase in eight years.  During that same time  
          period, registrations for passenger vehicles and  
          motorcycles grew from 19,544,152 to 22,781,390, a 16.6  
          percent increase.  Furthermore, the Department of Finance  
          projects that California's population will reach 44 million  
          by 2020, an increase which will be accompanied by growth in  
          the number of vehicle registrations and demand for highway  
          travel.

           Related legislation
           
          SB 626 (Kehoe) requires the California Public Utilities  
          Commission to evaluate and implement policies to provide  
          fueling infrastructure for plug-in hybrid and electric  
          vehicles. 

          AB 1500 (Lieu) extends the sunset date to allow certain  
          low-emission and hybrid vehicles to access HOV lanes,  
          regardless of vehicle occupancy, from January 1, 2011 until  
          January 1, 2016.  

          AB 1502 (Eng) extends the sunset date to allow certain  
          low-emission vehicles from January 1, 2011 until January 1,  
          2017, regardless of vehicle occupancy, but maintains the  

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          January 1, 2011 sunset date for hybrid vehicles.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/19/09)

          General Motors (source)


          JJA:do  5/19/09   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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