Dear Dr. Gridlock:

As a van-pool rider who sees her commute time increasing from 45 minutes to over an hour daily for no apparent reason other than HOV violators, I had to write.

Each morning those who are legally in the HOV lanes are delayed by drivers who clearly are not.

What really irks me are those blatant drivers who are seen violating the HOV laws daily, cruising along as if they have not a care in the world.

Because my van pool gets on HOV-3 at its starting point on Interstate 95 and gets off near Washington, we get to see it all . . . and it is not pretty.

We all are aware that state police do not have the funds or manpower to effectively patrol HOV lanes, but isn't there a way that the fines could be increased to $200 to $500 per violation to stop this practice?

Stephanie Drummond-Brown

Stafford

That's what California does, and readers report there are far fewer violators in those HOV lanes. I have been pushing for stiffer fines here (the first offense now is about $75), but it is going to take some courageous soul in the state legislature to take up the cause.

Frustration with the number of HOV violators is still the complaint I receive most often from Virginia readers.

Bring On the Vans

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

I read in your Oct. 3 column the suggestion from Sally Kelly for van service in and around the Washington area. That really would be a great service. Such vans could travel in the HOV lanes as well.

I got the idea from my son who lives in a small town in Virginia, Gordonsville, but works in the next town, Orange. Orange has a van service like the one that was suggested in your column.

My son meets the van across the street from his house, then the van travels through Gordonsville at selected stops and picks up others. Then it makes the trip to Orange, stopping along the way to pick up more people. It travels this route several times a day. When it's time for my son to come home from work, the van is there to pick him up. The distance between the two towns is about nine miles.

The van service works for them. Maybe it can work for the District. It sure would be something for politicians to think about.

Sharon Lambert

Richmond

I'm interested in knowing more about van service. I believe some employers have shuttles from Metro stops to places of employment. I'd like to know which ones work well.

Defending Police

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

In response to your question about whether the police presence is out there for drunk drivers and aggressive drivers [Dr. Gridlock, Oct. 13] . . . the answer is yes it is.

My husband is a police officer and frequently puts in time on these very programs. You may not realize they're out there, but rest assured that they are.

I know I'm biased, but it's so frustrating to see how many readers of your column come down hard on the police officers.

They're hard-working men and women who deserve our thanks instead of our constant whining and complaining that they aren't doing this or aren't doing that.

One minute people are complaining that they aren't doing enough enforcement, and then when they do pick up the pace in that particular area, they complain about the inconvenience.

Michelle Gomez

Woodbridge

I believe that most residents appreciate enforcement of traffic violations. They just want to see more, particularly on tailgaters, speeders, line crashers and those illegally in HOV lanes.

E-ZCheaper

In the Dec. 1 column in the Metro section, reader Daniel Morgiewicz of Burke complained about a $1-a-month surcharge that had been added to his monthly E-ZPass account.

I suggested he figure out whether it is worth an extra $12 a year to have a transponder that allows for swift passage through the toll gates of the Interstate 95 corridor.

Here is a reader suggestion:

Dear Dr. Gridlock:

The $1-per-month surcharge for E-ZPass only applies to E-ZPass transponders obtained from the Regional Consortium, Web site www.ezpass.com. This was imposed upon them by New Jersey, whose three toll roads are members of the Regional Consortium and ran up major cost overruns in installing their system incorrectly.

The E-ZPass brand is still free, without surcharges, at numerous providers. I suggest you mention these in your next column. Surcharge-free providers include:

* E-ZPass of Maryland (formerly M-TAG): www.ezpassmd.com.

* E-ZPass of Delaware River and Bay Authority: www.ezpassdrba.com.

* E-ZPass of New York: www.e-zpassny.com.

Rush Wickes

Blacksburg

Thanks for the Web sites.