High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes in NJ
WE DID IT!!!
The HOV lanes on Rts. 80 & 287 were decommissioned on November 30, 1998!
White Castles for everyone! (...well, that's my idea of celebrating). Thanks and congratulations to all the concerned citizens for writing letters, especially those who walked the extra mile like David Yourish and Ernest Carnicelli. Thanks for the support from organizations like Stephen Carellas of the National Motorist Association and Pam Fischer of AAA. Thanks to columnists like Dan Goldfischer of the Daily Record and Paul Wyckoff of the Star Ledger for putting our concerns in print. Thanks to the politicians like Assemblyman Michael Carroll who fought them from the beginning, Senator Gordon MacInnes who got the ball rolling, Assemblyman DeCroce, Congressman Franks, Congressman Frelinghuysen, Senator Lautenberg, and Senator Bucco who picked up the ball, and to Governor Whitman who FINALLY used her political muscle for GOOD.
But the biggest thanks goes to Star Ledger columnist John McLaughlin who not only picked up the cause, but no less than lead us to victory. Without him, we would still be fighting and the politicians would still be ignoring us. Thank you, thank you, thank you....
So, I can take the web site down now, right? Politicians finally learned that HOV lanes don't work, right? They wouldn't dare try again, right? Let me answer that with an article clipped from the Star Ledger:
HOV lanes reach end of the road - The... underused HOV lanes will be eliminated. (The) Governor... decided to scrap the program aimed at increasing carpooling... because it proved ineffective. (The) Transportation Commissioner..., who made the final recommendation to the Governor, was more blunt and called the carpooling experiment a mistake. "Our studies indicate that the lanes had no positive effect on the level of carpooling...," he said. The Governor added "the lanes created confusion for some motorists as well as a potential safety hazard...." A DOT researcher added that because only 17 percent of the cars... were using the two HOV lanes, despite efforts to entice more motorists to carpool, the experiment was considered a failure. "Our prime purpose for creating the HOV lanes was to convince people to share rides and thus reduce the number of vehicles..., obviously the HOV lanes were not a sufficient inducement".
1998? Rt.80 & 287? John McLaughlin? No! This column was on the front page of the Star Ledger on June 4, 1982! The Governor was Thomas Kean, the Transportation Commissioner was John Sheridan, and the HOV lanes were on the Garden State Parkway.
No, I think I'll leave this web site up for future politicians. They seem doomed to repeat history.
The Great HOV War
...excerpts from a privates diary.
I'm Jim Padykula and these are my opinions. Let me give you my credentials: I am a commuter. I am pro environment - I recycle, I don't use Styrofoam cups, I bike to the store, I even walk to my carpool. Yes, I carpool. And I want to make one thing perfectly clear: I am very pro HOV. It's just HOV LANES that I'm against.
Until 1994, I took little interest in politics. Then the Rt. 80 HOV lanes opened. My first letter to the editor was printed on 1/4/95. I was ecstatic, ...and naive. I thought "who could argue with that logic"? I figured the HOV signs would be down by the end of the month.
Then nothing. I wrote more letters. I wrote politicians, but all I got was form letters thanking me for my interest and HOV propaganda that I had already argued against. I soon grew tired of making the same arguments over and over, so I started this web site so I could just direct people here. When I learned many politicians weren't web savvy, I summarized this site into a little brochure (complete with a refrigerator magnet with the sHOVe it! logo). But the form letters continued. Once I even got the wrong form letter from Governor Whitman thanking me for my interest in car insurance. I stopped opening their letters.
In early 1998 I tried something new. I sent the HOV brochures to a few reporters. Now, I would like to think I had something to do with getting the ball rolling, but in all honestly there were tons of people mad at HOV lanes by then. To my surprise, the newspapers took a decisively negative turn against HOV lanes. My web site was listed in 3 different newspapers and I received dozens of E-mails. FINALLY the politicians listened.
My opinion about HOV lanes
Simply put, they do more harm than good. They are a good example of bad thinking. Below is how an HOV freedom fighter in California summed it up on his web site ARISTOTTLE:
"What does Aristotle have to do with Modern Urban Transportation Planning"?
Many of the issues in urban transportation planning today come down to arguments between idealists and pragmatists. This debate may have had its origin some 2300 years ago in the conflicting philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.
Plato was an idealist. To Plato, the only intellectual structures of value were fully self-consistent thought structures, "Platonic ideals", irrespective of whether such premises correspond in any way to the observable world.
Aristotle was a pragmatist. He said, "Wait a minute, the real world isn't anything like that. Understanding the real world is far more important and significant than your Platonic ideals."
Aristotle prevailed, at least for the time being. He may well be called the father of science and engineering. But Platonism is not dead. It lives on today in much of transportation Planning
- Jack Mallinckrodt
Today, the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) tell us HOV lanes are "an effective strategy for reducing traffic congestion and pollution". Yet when the restrictions were removed in the real world (...on Rt. 80 & 287), congestion instantly improved. Then they tell us that HOV lanes are a "long term strategy" and "can only work in combination with other techniques", such as employer parking space buy-back. But wait a minute, the real world isn't anything like that! Platonism not only lives on, it's flourishing!
More HOV pages
HOV Myths - I have never heard a pro-HOV argument that makes sense. "Reduces congestion", "Long term benefits", "Save 10 minutes". Hogwash! Here is a list of the top 10 HOV myths debunked.
In The News - This was my HOV page during the great NJ HOV war, archived for historical reference.