CA's clean air vehicle decals for carpool lane access likely expiring in 2025

ByLeslie Brinkley KGO logo
Tuesday, April 2, 2024
CA's clean air vehicle decals likely expiring in 2025
California's clean air vehicle decals for free carpool lane access will likely expire in 2025. Here's what to know.

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you enjoy cruising through the carpool lane with your clean air vehicle sticker, those days may soon be ending.

Without federal and state intervention, those stickers won't be renewed come Sept. 30, 2025.

That's when the California Clean Air Vehicle program is set to expire for everyone.

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So all owners of electric, plug-in hybrid or natural gas vehicles with a rainbow of stickers on their car allowing them access to the carpool lane would no longer have access.

"Really, a whole generation of drivers have come up with carpool access as an incentive for buying a clean air vehicle and that access in relatively short order will be disappearing," John Goodwin with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission said.

The problem is, first the federal government has to allow states to extend their programs for clean air vehicles. Then California would be able to extend carpool access as a perk of owning a clean air vehicle. But that scenario seems highly unlikely given the stalemate in Congress.

"To the best of my knowledge, there isn't even a bill introduced yet so time is running out," Goodwin said.

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There are over 400,000 drivers in California who currently have decals - many of them bought their clean air vehicle to speed up their commute so losing that privilege is a big deal.

A Tesla driver says, " It is frustrating. Like I said the main reason for the decision is driving in Bay Area traffic."

On the other side of things, it could benefit or even incentivize casual carpooling by decreasing the number of vehicles in carpool lanes at rush hour.

MTC says there are many possible outcomes but the clock is ticking. It's unknown how that 2025 expiration date for decals could affect the sales of new clean air vehicles in California.

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