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StarBulletin.com

ZipperLane change brought good results


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POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Question: The state Department of Transportation decided in August to change the requirements of using the ZipperLane from two to three passengers, supposedly for a six-month trial. It has been more than six months, so please, can we revert back to the two-passenger minimum ASAP? Many mornings, the ZipperLane is not heavily used and is quite free of cars. Can you imagine having a toddler or infant in the back seat for 1 1/2 hours compared with 45 minutes trying to get to preschool, then to work?

Answer: The Transportation Department says results show the stricter requirement has resulted in fewer cars carrying more people, so there are no plans to revert to the two- passenger minimum.

The number of cars traveling in the ZipperLane, HOV Lane and general-purpose lanes was tracked daily for more than six months, said transportation spokeswoman Tammy Mori.

“;Before the change we saw an average of 3,700 cars each morning, and most cars had two people,”; she said. “;Now we see an average of 2,500 (cars), with three people to a car.”;

The data also shows that half the number of commuters are moving in just two lanes — the ZipperLane and HOV Lane, she said.

“;That was the intent of changing the ridership requirement from two to three people”; — moving more people in fewer cars in less time, she said.

The results solidify “;the need to keep this requirement on a permanent basis,”; she said.

The Transportation Department numbers also show it is taking a shorter time to drive into town from Leeward Oahu, she said.

For those traveling in the ZipperLane, the average commute time from Managers Drive in Waikele to Pacific Street in Iwilei has been cut in half, she said, to an average of 17 minutes from 32 minutes.

For motorists in the “;general-purpose lanes,”; the average commute times were shown to have dropped to 22 minutes from 37 minutes.

Mori pointed out that before the new minimum was set, there were periods during the morning commute (between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m.) where it took 15 to 20 minutes longer to travel in the ZipperLane as it did to drive in the general-purpose lanes.

“;Not only was the ZipperLane carrying (fewer) people, but it was no longer providing an incentive or reward for those who chose to carpool,”; she said.

“;Based on the statistics, we feel the change in ridership requirements for the ZipperLane has been successful,”; Mori said.

If you can't get three people together to ride into town, the Transportation Department is promoting Carpool Matching and School Pool programs, which help match commuters in carpools.

Call the department at 692-7695 or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)for an application.

You will be matched with other potential carpoolers in your area with a similar commute.

Vanpool Hawaii is another Transportation Department program that has nearly tripled in ridership over the past two years, Mori said. Call 596-VANS or go to vanpoolhawaii.com for more information.