Requiring 3 in a car to use ZipperLane worth a try
The state is raising the minimum number of vehicle occupants for the ZipperLane and the Nimitz contraflow lane from two to three.
The state Department of Transportation is hoping to decrease the number of cars that travel the ZipperLane and the Nimitz Highway contraflow track by requiring three occupants in each vehicle instead of two.
The plan could encourage carpooling by rewarding commuting threesomes with faster trips into town.
It also could discourage carpooling and increase the number of cars in regular traffic lanes if current duos are unable to find another person to share the ride, or if they decide to split up and go solo because they've lost the Zipper privilege.
Another scenario could have so many new carpools forming — spurred by the zooming price of gasoline — that the ZipperLane would be jammed, nullifying the department's goals. In addition, by summer's end, children can fill the trio requirement in their parents' cars as schools start up classes again, possibly raising ZipperLane congestion.
Transportation officials are surely aware that myriad factors determine driving habits and that they will have many elements to consider in figuring out if the change will turn out well.
About the only thing officials can count on is that drivers won't be happy with the increase that starts July 8, and about the only thing motorists can expect is that traffic volume won't ease unless some of them get off the roads.
The department's plan, however, is worth trying. If fuller cars increase ZipperLane use, the state could extend the three-per-vehicle rule to the H-1 HOV lanes, which currently require only two occupants. Though enforcement might be more difficult, adding the H-2, the Moanalua and Kalanianaole and other highways would encourage ride-sharing.
People who need help in forming carpools can sign up with the department for matches by locations and times. The state also provides links to Vanpools, an increasingly popular option. TheBoat and TheBus, an economical way to commute, are gaining riders as consumers seek to offset gasoline costs.
The department expects to cut 300 cars from the 3,800 that the ZipperLane carries every weekday morning. Whether the decrease will come from shifting cars to regular lanes, by getting more drivers into fewer cars or through some other dynamic is anybody's guess. The frustration of commuters, however, demands that something be tried.