California ‘Green’ HOV-Lane Access Program Gets Emergency 15,000 Decal Extension

It’s official: the State of California has just passed an emergency bill designed to get the state’s Green HOV-lane access decal program back into full swing after the program ran out of HOV-lane access decals last month.

As EVFleetWorld reported yesterday, SB853 — a so-called trailer bill — was recently signed into law by Californian Governor Jerry Brown which included provision to expand the number of green HOV-lane decals available to plug-in hybrid and range-extended electric car drivers in the state from a total of 40,000 decals to 55,000 decals.

Come July 1, 15,000 more green HOV-lane decals will be available for Californians to apply for.

Come July 1, 15,000 more green HOV-lane decals will be available for Californians to apply for.

Under the green HOV-lane access program, drivers of qualifying vehicles can drive in California’s many hundreds of high-occupancy vehicle (carpool) lanes even if they’re the only occupant in the vehicle. Unlike the white HOV-lane access program — which offers an unlimited number of white HOV-lane access decals to all-electric, CNG and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles — the green HOV-lane access program has always had the number of decals it can give out capped by law.

Originally limited to just 40,000 decals, the passing of SB853 will mean that an additional 15,000 decals will be made available under the scheme starting July 1.

Those who remember reading past posts on the green HOV-lane access program may notice there’s a discrepancy between the number of decals which will become available on July 1 and the number of  decals legislators originally asked to be added to the program.

That’s because SB853 — a special type of bill designed to pass through budgetary regulation in as little as two weeks to ensure the state can continue functioning — is essentially a stop-gap measure until the original proposal laid out in AB2013 is passed through the normal legislative process.

While AB2013 –passed onto the Senate by the Californian Assembly a few months back — continues its long process into becoming law, the provision to expand the green HOV-lane access program will ensure the backlog of HOV-lane decal applications can now be worked through.

The Chevrolet Volt is one of the many plug-in hybrids and range-extended EVs eligible to wear a Green HOV-lane access decal in California.

The Chevrolet Volt is one of the many plug-in hybrids and range-extended EVs eligible to wear a Green HOV-lane access decal in California.

The news will be of particular interest to BMW i3 REx owners. That’s because BMW didn’t start delivering its range-extended variant of the i3 electric car until after California had used up all of its 40,000 original decal quota. While BMW i3 EV owners have been able to apply for the unlimited white HOV-lane access decals, those with the optional range extender have been forced to spend the past few months driving with other single-occupant drivers on busy rush-hour commuter routes.

Naturally, we’ll give you more information on AB2013 as it passes through the legislative process. Unlike the bill recently passed, it proposes extending the total number of decals available under the scheme to 80,000 decals.

For now however, if you’re a Californian plug-in hybrid or range extended EV owner without a decal, you’ll want to make sure you get your application filed pretty quickly. With no decals given out for more than a month, we’d guess these new 15,000 decals will go really rather quickly.

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  • Ad van der Meer

    It will work until the HOV lanes clogg up as bad or even worse than the I405… At some point they will have to be more selective to keep having these stickers as an advantage.