State Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, who represents the Richmond, Sunset, parts of southern S.F. and Daly City, is tired of seeing an empty carpool lane on her morning commute up I-80 from S.F. to Sacramento. So, she's now introduced legislation to kill the eastbound carpool lane just in the morning, but not the afternoon.
Greenhouse gasses and good intentions be damned, Ma wants that lane between the Bay and Carquinez bridges, on the most notoriously backed-up stretch of I-80 in the East Bay, opened up to all traffic, because there aren't enough people with three occupants in their cars using it. As Matier and Ross note, Caltrans hasn't provided an updated accounting of how many people use the lanes in over a decade.
This hearkens back to Joan Didion's 1976 essay "Bureaucrats" (contained in The White Album) in which she famously railed against the introduction of carpool lanes in Los Angeles, and rhapsodized about the pleasures of tooling around the city alone in her car on its vast web of freeways. At the time, there was indeed a public outcry about these "diamond lanes" on the Santa Monica Freeway because they caused a massive amount of new traffic as well as an uptick in accidents. But Caltrans stated pretty clearly that they didn't care about the traffic, because the point was to discourage people from driving and eliminating some small percentage of the cars from the road. Caltrans kept and expanded these carpool lanes in L.A., despite the outcry, and they still exist today.
A transportation commission spokesman says that Ma's bill, which would supposedly reopen the carpool lane in 2020, could be a mistake because "when you take one away, it's hard to get it back."