Dear Dr. Gridlock:
Any predictions as to what will happen when the high-occupancy vehicle restrictions/exemptions on Interstate 66 expire next summer? I'm in the market to buy a new car, and I'm considering buying a hybrid to be able to take advantage of the HOV exemption on I-66.
The hybrids that are available, however, aren't my first pick in cars. Any guesses about whether the exemption will be extended or whether existing owners will be grandfathered in? I know you can't make any guarantees, but I'm just looking for a knowledgeable prediction.
This is not a bold prediction: The Virginia General Assembly almost certainly will renew the exemption that allows solo drivers of hybrid cars to use the I-66 carpool lanes. The provision was supposed to expire July 1, 2006, after successfully stimulating the sale of hybrids, but it has been extended for one year in every legislative session since then.
It's politically popular, even though it contributes nothing to easing congestion on one of the most crowded highways in the region and, in fact, might well hurt that cause.
Metrorail service has largely recovered from the aftermath of the June 22 crash, but confidence in Metrorail took a hit and hasn't recovered. One of the problems was that many people already had issues with the service. I invited travelers to comment on their decisions to endure traffic vs. taking transit.