High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV)

Summary of Policy

The purpose of the policy is to ensure the long-term success of Los Angeles County’s HOV system. The Policies offer a strategy for optimizing the efficiency of HOV lanes and guiding future investments to complete the HOV network. Policymakers hope to achieve greater mobility within the transportation system and meet the air quality goals, as articulated in the Long-Range Transportation Plan. HOV lanes are one aspect of their regional multimodal strategy.

There are four policies: Capital Investments, HOV Operations, Public Education and Awareness, and HOV Performance Monitoring.

The Capital Investments Policy has three parts. The first is a recommendation to develop a system of continuous HOV lanes by closing existing gaps. It encourages increased transit use and ridesharing and making the freeway more efficient. The second advocates making freeway-to-freeway HOV connectors at strategic locations to save travel time, enhance trip reliability and improve safety for bus riders and carpoolers. And the third is to create additional transit services and stations, park-and-ride lots and direct access ramp connections with existing HOV lanes.

The second policy, HOV Operations, supports dedicated—24 hours, 7days per week—HOV lanes. Part-time HOV operations should not be considered during the first three years of operation to allow adequate time for ridesharing and transit use to develop. Any part-time HOV operations must be coordinated with and approved by appropriate state and federal agencies, and may require repayment of any federal funds used for HOV capital investments. It suggests that staff work with Caltrans to mitigate HOV lane bottlenecks by re-striping or other geometric lane configurations, including raising minimum occupancy requirements from two-plus lanes to three-plus during peak commute periods or adding transit service to regulate demand. It also supports the California Highway Patrol (CHP) as the HOV law enforcer and encourages the agency and Caltrans to help the CHP find innovative, more cost effective strategies for HOV enforcement.

Public Education and Awareness is the third policy. It requires us to prepare and update each year an HOV Education and Promotion Plan that includes an assessment of HOV market conditions, goals and objectives for the program, including a target market, a description of activities, a schedule for implementation, and an annual budget. Information outlining HOV goals, objectives and performance, and future visions should be included as part of the annual program. Finally, HOV Performance Monitoring requires the agency to coordinate with Caltrans, CHP, and other agencies to assess the performance of the County’s HOV lanes, focusing on key measures of effectiveness contained in the HOV Performance Program Evaluation Report.

Historical Perspective

In March 2000, the Board authorized staff to hire a consultant to evaluate the effectiveness of HOV lanes on the County’s freeways. Their study was designed to measure the performance of carpool lanes throughout the County and to develop multimodal goals and objectives that accomplish the following:

  • Enhance existing HOV databases to enable technically valid evaluations of HOV lane effectiveness;
  • Analyze the travel impacts and user benefits for the HOV system;
  • Provide policymakers with nformation to make decisions about the future of HOV facilities;
  • Sustain the current market and promote increased acceptance of HOV system; and
  • Establish an ongoing HOV lane monitoring and collection system.

The study took two years to complete and its findings were compiled in HOV Performance Program Evaluation Report.
In September 2002 the Board approved the HOV Guiding Principles, and it received and filed the HOV Performance Program Evaluation Report. At the meeting, the CEO suggested, with the Board’s permission, that staff reformat the Principles into a standard policy format. In November the Board received a letter documenting the change.

Last Board Action

September 26, 2002 – HOV Guiding Principles

The Board approved on consent calendar the adoption of the HOV Guiding Principles to guide the operation and
development of the countywide freeway High Occupancy Vehicle lanes.