19 Feb 2017, 9:04am
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Comments Off on Not gonna use the HOV lane? It still benefits you!

Not gonna use the HOV lane? It still benefits you!

HOV-sign

TxDOT is preparing to build San Antonio’s first two high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on I-10 West and US  281 North. Construction of both is scheduled to start this year.

One comment I frequently hear about HOV lanes is from people saying they won’t use them, so they won’t benefit from them.  A corollary of that is that people who won’t use them don’t think their tax money should be spent on them.  As is often the case, both of these viewpoints fail to see the bigger picture.

Even if you don’t use an HOV lane, you still get a benefit from it.  Every car that uses the HOV lane is one vehicle (or more in many cases) that’s not clogging-up the general-purpose mainlanes.  In other words, it’s one less car in your way.  Furthermore, if the HOV lane encourages more people to carpool or use transit, then that’s even more vehicles not in your way.  So even if you’re not in the HOV lane yourself, you’re still getting a benefit.

As for the tax money argument, there are a couple of counterpoints to that.  First of all, we all pay taxes for things we don’t use or get any direct benefit from but others do.  Lots of homeowners don’t have kids in school but still pay school taxes.  Few of us ride the bus, but we all pay taxes for VIA.  The list goes on.

Secondly, as described above, the money spent on HOV lanes does in fact give you a benefit.

If you’re still not convinced, then know that many people are supportive of HOV lanes and those people are taxpayers, too.  If it helps you sleep better, then consider that it’s their tax dollars paying for it instead of yours.

Sure, they could use the money spent on the HOV lane for another general-purpose lane, but as we all know, it’s just a matter of time (and not long these days) before that lane will be just as congested as before, and then there’s no more room to expand.  Instead, HOV lanes are a strategy for providing stable capacity to move people, not just vehicles, a strategy that planners understand and that people here in San Antonio need to start wrapping their heads around.  That said, the money for HOV lanes in many cases can’t be spent on general-purpose lanes anyway, so sometimes it’s build an HOV lane or nothing.

The good news is that on both I-10 and US 281, they’re also adding new general-purposes lanes, so it’s even more of a win-win for everyone.

 
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