BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       


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                                 THIRD READING
                                        

          Bill No:  AB 769
          Author:   Margett (R), et al
          Amended:  5/26/00 in Senate
          Vote:     27 - Urgency

            
           SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE  :  8-1, 5/16/00
          AYES:  Karnette, Dunn, Costa, Figueroa, Kelley, Rainey,  
            Soto, Speier
          NOES:  Murray
          NOT VOTING:  Hayden, Monteith, Morrow

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8

           ASSEMBLY FLOOR :  Not relevant
           

           SUBJECT  :    Vehicles:  preferential vehicle lanes

           SOURCE  :     Author

           
           DIGEST :    This bill would change the minimum occupancy  
          level from two to three for high-occupancy vehicles using  
          the "El Monte Busway" during peak commuting hours and  
          expand the guidelines of the study required to be made and  
          submitted to the Legislature by the Department of  
          Transportation.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law authorizes the Department of  
          Transportation to authorize or permit exclusive or  
          preferential use of highway lanes for high-occupancy  
          vehicles.  Existing law, which becomes inoperative on July  
          1, 2001, and of January 1, 2002, is repealed, requires the  
                                                           CONTINUED





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          department to establish those lanes on the San Bernardino  
          Freeway, and to set the minimum occupancy level on those  
          lanes at two persons, including the driver.  Existing law  
          also requires the Department of Transportation to submit a  
          study to the Legislature relative to the changes in  
          motorist's behavior as a result of the establishment of the  
          lane.

          This bill would instead set the minimum occupancy level on  
          those lanes at three persons, including the driver, during  
          the peak commuting hours of 5:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. inclusive  
          and 4:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m. inclusive, Monday through Friday,  
          inclusive, and two persons, including the driver, at all  
          other times.  

          This bill would require the Department of Transportation to  
          include in the report an assessment of the options  
          available to the department in order to maximize the use of  
          the lanes including, but not limited to, an analysis of  
          opening an additional lane, installing entrances and exits  
          on the lane or lanes, and other feasible proposals to  
          relieve congestion on the San Bernardino Freeway.

          Since 1973, a portion of the San Bernardino Freeway,  
          stretching approximately 11 miles from the I-605 Freeway to  
          the I-110 Freeway, has included an exclusive lane for  
          buses, which is known as the "El Monte Busway."  As the  
          result of a local bus strike in 1976, however, an allowance  
          was made that permitted carpools with three or more  
          occupants to use the busway.  The authorization for carpool  
          use of the busway included a vehicle volume standard of  
          1300 vehicles during peak traffic periods, and department  
          officials indicate that the traffic volumes approached the  
          stipulated standard. 

          Last year, the Legislature approved Senate Bill 63 (Solis)  
          Chapter 168, which required the Department of  
          Transportation to "establish exclusive or preferential use  
          of highway lanes for high-occupancy vehicles on that  
          portion of State Highway Route 10 known as the San  
          Bernardino Freeway, and shall set the minimum occupancy  
          level on those lanes at two persons, including the driver."  
           This authorization is scheduled to be repealed on January  
          1, 2002, and the department is required to submit a report  







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          to the Legislature evaluating the operation of the lanes by  
          January 1, 2001.

          Various accounts indicate that the increased number of  
          carpools on the busway as a result of the relaxing of the  
          vehicle occupancy requirement has served to significantly  
          congest the lanes.  These accounts include:

          1.The Los Angeles Times reported in an article earlier this  
            year that "(n)ew state legislation opening the San  
            Bernardino Freeway carpool lane to vehicles with only two  
            occupants has so clogged Southern California's most  
            successful such route that state transportation officials  
            say the express bus service for which the lane was  
            originally constructed has collapsed."  (January 22,  
            2000)  

          2.Foothill Eastern Transportation Corridor Agency, which  
            provides bus service that uses the El Monte Busway,  
            contends that the "(c)hanges to the carpool minimum on  
            the El Monte Busway have had a negative effect on  
            Foothill Transit's operations.  On-time performance has  
            suffered significantly.  There has also been an increase  
            in safety incidents, customer complaints, and overtime  
            due to missed trips."

          3.The Department of Transportation reports that "(t)he peak  
            hour volume in the westbound lane (morning) has increased  
            to approximately 1509 vehicles per hour at breakdown  
            speeds as low as 10 mph at some locations, a decrease of  
            55 mph.  The speed of the buses during peak periods has  
            decreased significantly, with buses sometimes coming to a  
            complete stop.  The number of buses carried by the busway  
            has also decreased to approximately 55 buses per hour  
            from 80 buses per hour, prior to the change.  Some bus  
            riders claim that their commute is 20 minutes longer in  
            the morning and 30 minutes longer in the afternoon."

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

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  6/6/00)

          Foothill Transit, West Covina







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          Planning and Conservation League
          Individual letters

           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    Foothill Transit states that, "the  
          recent change to the carpool minimum (from three to two  
          people) has had a significant negative impact on Foothill  
          Transit's customers during peak commuting times.  Before  
          the change, our 18,000 daily customers could expect to save  
          up to 20 minutes on their commute time to and from downtown  
          Los Angeles over driving by themselves.  With the change in  
          state law (SB 63, 1999), this time savings has been reduced  
          or eliminated and many of our customers report that the  
          trip can now take from 20-25 minutes longer than it  
          previously did.

          "According to data from the Southern California Association  
          of Governments (SCAG), the time savings that transit  
          customers used to enjoy made the El Monte Busway the most  
          successful HOV facility in Southern California.  Before the  
          change, this one land carried 50 percent of the people on  
          the entire San Bernardino freeway at peak times.  According  
          to SCAG, the high performance of the El Monte Busway was  
          directly related to the three-person per vehicle minimum.   
          Further, in a recent report to the Legislature, the  
          Legislative Analyst's office also cited the El Monte  
          Busway's success, stating that 'HOV lanes can be very  
          efficient from the perspective of person throughout when  
          combined with bus service.'  In other words, the El Monte  
          Busway moved commuters very efficiently.

          "AB 769 is a reasonable solution to the chronic congestion  
          on the 1-10.  It will give motorists more freedom, while  
          allowing Foothill Transit to continue to offer an  
          attractive alternative to the automobile for commuters."


          RJG:sl  6/6/00   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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