PDF: 1832 KB - Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional ...


PDF: 1832 KB - Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional ...

BITRE | Working paper 74

Figure 2.5 Number of vehicles needed to carry 57 people


Two-person carpool

Single-occupant car


Adapted from Canadian Ministry of Transportation (undated).

High-occupancy vehicle lanes

While Australian cities have some lanes reserved exclusively for high-occupancy

vehicles—HOV lanes—they are widespread through the US.

The logic underlying HOV lanes is straightforward: if solo drivers are encouraged to

car-pool to gain access to faster HOV lanes, this would remove cars from the road

and congestion would decline. The (then) Secretary of Washington State Department

of Transportation praised HOV lanes:

HOV lanes in the right places are highly efficient, enhance the speed and reliability

of multi-passenger vehicles and ease congestion in adjacent general purpose lanes

(Macdonald 2006, Slide 8).

In the US, HOV lanes are commonly available to any vehicle carrying more than one

person, including car-pools, van-pools, buses and taxis. 15 The lure of the lanes is a

faster trip with a more reliable travel time, since fewer vehicles qualify to use the


However, the unforeseen consequences of HOV lanes have caused a rethink of their

role as a congestion reduction tool. There are two main issues: their apparent lack of

effectiveness in generating a shift to high-occupancy vehicles and hence their impact

on congestion levels in the other lanes.

15. Note that the use of the term ‘high occupancy’ is not to be taken literally since, it many cases, it means two or more



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