Bill would let hybrid cars use high-occupancy vehicle lanes

CARSON CITY — A Nevada Senate panel voted Thursday for a measure that would help promote plug-in hybrid cars by letting them use car pool highway lanes even if only one person is in the vehicle.

Assembly Bill 163, routed to the Senate floor on a unanimous vote by the Energy, Infrastructure and Transportation Committee, was proposed by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, who described it as a toned-down version of a bill that didn’t win approval in 2007.

Under Ohrenschall’s plan, the state Transportation Department would determine which low-emission, energy-efficient vehicles could use the high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes.

The Las Vegas area has about five miles of such lanes now, and Ohrenschall said that could to increase to 15 miles within a year.

“So it’s going to become more of an incentive to purchase these vehicles,” he said.

The lawmaker also said the bill would make it optional for authorities to allow the hybrids in the HOV lanes. That way, the hybrids could be cut off from the HOV lanes if they got too crowded, he said.

Of an estimated 2.3 million vehicles registered in Nevada, about 11,400 are hybrid autos, lawmakers were told.

In related action, an organization promoting a zero-emission vehicle, corridor on about 240 miles of Interstate 80 between Berkley, Calif., and Reno held a news conference outside the Legislature to discuss that effort.

Susan Clark of the Renewable Energy Accelerator said the University of California and Nevada System of Higher Education have agreed to develop a feasibility study for the corridor. The study will focus on charging stations and other infrastructure needs as well as government involvement in setting up the corridor.

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