New Meaning for HOT Lanes
The slugs who cram into cars each day so they can travel up and down I-95/395 in the HOV lanes have been wondering about -- well, more like aggressively questioning -- the idea that there's some way technology can preserve their commuting system once those lanes are converted to HOT lanes.
HOT lanes are for high-occupancy or toll commuters. So instead of three types of users to regulate (carpoolers and cheaters), there will be three: carpoolers, cheaters and toll payers. Because the whole idea is to keep those lanes moving at speed, the regulating will have to be done electronically.
Ken Daley, vice president of the company that is part of the public-private partnership planning the HOT lanes project on I-95/395 and on the Beltway, says he's sure it can be done. He describes how in a story in today's Post by Michael Laris.
Cars will be scanned with infrared sensors capable -- usually -- of detecting how many people are inside. The results would have to be visible on devices inside state police cars, so that cheaters could be pulled over. The unit would have to tell the trooper whether a passing car has paid the electronic toll and if not, whether the car contains at least three people. Transponders would have on-off switches, so that a driver who's paying the toll one day could carpool the next.
Will the technology work? Let's hope the carpoolers are hot enough. There can't be any loophole in this deal that will allow the private operators of the toll road to back out of the agreement to let carpoolers in for free. And I'm not crazy about the idea of using Virginia state police to enforce revenue collection for a private company.
What do you think? We can talk about it here and also during an online chat today at 1 p.m. During the live Discussion, we could also talk about Metro's latest plans for a fare increase, described in a Post story by Lena H. Sun. City dwellers and suburbanites are likely to have different views of the plans.
You might also be interested in Katherine Shaver's story in Sunday's Post about the legal challenge to the intercounty connector highway. The future of the highway hangs on whether the federal government properly followed national environmental policy in signing off on it.
[Here's a link that allows you to submit a question or comment for the Discussion now, but do join us at 1 p.m.]
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