HOV | 511 Contra Costa

New Transportation Laws for 2020

A number of transportation-related laws take effect on January 1, 2020. Below, we’ve highlighted those affecting most road users. To read the full text of any law, click the link to the right of the headline.

  • Bicyclists May Travel Straight Through Turn Lanes (AB 1266): Cyclists will be allowed to proceed straight through turn lanes (both right and left) at intersections, as long as the traffic light signal indicates that vehicles may travel straight through the intersection.
  • Motorized Scooters Will No Longer Require a Motorcycle License to Operate (AB 1810): In 2019, you could use an electric scooter if you had either a driver’s license or learner’s permit. However, operating other types of motorized scooters required a motorcycle (class M1 or M2) license. In 2020, no specialized license will be required for motorized scooters – a driver’s license or learner’s permit will suffice. Note: Motorized scooters cannot be ridden on sidewalks, and a helmet is required when using one.
  • Extension of Program Allowing Low-Emission Vehicles to Use HOV Lanes (AB 544) An existing program allowing low-emission and transitional zero-emission vehicles access to HOV lanes, regardless of vehicle occupancy, has been extended. In 2020, the DMV will issue orange decals to qualifying vehicles. They will be valid until January 1, 2024.
  • Illegal for Vehicle Passengers to Consume Marijuana (AB 1810): The exemption allowing passengers to consume marijuana while in a bus, limousine, taxi, pedicab, housecar or camper expires at the end of 2019. The exemption allowing passengers in these types of vehicles to drink alcohol will remain in effect.

For more laws taking effect in 2020 that affect motorists, visit the DMV website.

NOTE: Starting Oct. 1, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will require U.S. residents to have a federally approved document, like a REAL ID driver’s license or ID card, to board domestic flights. The DMV encourages Californians to apply for their REAL ID when they renew their driver’s license or at their earliest convenience. For more information, check out the FAQ for getting a REAL ID.

The 2017 California Gas Tax Is Here, Don’t Let It Affect You

California’s 12-cent gas tax increase went into effect this month, and you’ll soon see the impact at gas stations throughout the state. We have a couple of ways for you to beat the tax hike:
Share the Ride – Whether you call it ridesharing or carpooling, it’s the same thing – sharing a ride and splitting the cost. Now that most people have smartphones, apps make it possible to carpool to work with just a little advance notice. The first step: visit our Carpooling Page. We’ll walk you through your options (some app-based, some not) and even tell you how carpooling might qualify you for a $25 incentive.
If you commute by driving to BART, there’s an additional perk for you: Scoop carpools are guaranteed a parking spot at a number of Contra Costa BART stations when they arrive before 10am. No need to get up super-early to get a space or roll the dice on a spot being available when you arrive – use Scoop to find a passenger for that empty seat & parking is yours! Plus, parking is free.
Get an Electric Vehicle – If you’re not ready to commute without driving, leasing or purchasing an electric vehicle not only lets you avoid paying the gas tax, but vehicles which are 100% electric get toll-free access to the Express Lanes. Electric vehicles are also allowed in the HOV lanes during carpool hours, even if it’s a solo commute.
For more information on the benefits of driving an electric vehicle, visit our Electric Vehicle Incentive Programs page.

I-580 Express Lanes Now Open (2016)

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Click to enlarge image

The I-580 Express Lanes through Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore are now open! Here’s what you need to know to use them:

  • needFlexPassAll drivers will need a FasTrak® or FasTrak® Flex toll tag and valid FasTrak account to use the lanes.
  • The Express Lanes will be toll-free for carpools, vanpools, eligible clean-air vehicles, buses and motorcycles with a FasTrak Flex toll tag.
  • Solo drivers will have the option of paying to access the Express Lanes using a standard FasTrak or FasTrak Flex toll tag set to ‘1’.
  • The Express Lanes will look and feel like carpool lanes, allowing motorists to enter and exit almost anywhere along the corridor.
  • The Express Lanes will operate Monday through Friday, from 5-8pm. Outside of these hours, the Express Lanes will be open to all vehicles at no charge and with no toll-tag requirements.

For more information, visit Alameda CTC’s I-580 information page.

Five Reasons Why You Should Change Up Your Commute (BTWD 2016)


You’ve probably noticed that traffic congestion in the Bay Area is as bad as it’s ever been, starting at 5 o’clock each morning. Congestion isn’t expected to get better anytime soon and is increasing faster than population and employment. So if you’ve been considering making the switch from commuting alone by car, now is the perfect time!
Here are 6 great reasons to make this the month you change up your commute:
#1: ‘Drive Less’ Commuter Incentive: Make the switch from driving alone to carpooling, taking transit, bicycling or walking for your commute even one day a week and 511 Contra Costa will give you a cash reward as part of the Drive Less Commuter Incentive Program. Get all the details here.
#2: Get There Faster: Transit, carpooling and vanpooling speed up your commute by granting you access to HOV lanes, while biking and walking help you bypass the backup of vehicles almost entirely.
#3: Alternative Commuters Are Healthier & Feel Better: Studies Show riding the bus or train to work is associated with a lower risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and being overweight. Research also shows commuting on foot or by bike is better for people’s mental health than driving.
#4: Tax Break for Taking Transit: Did you know you can set aside $255 per month in pre-tax dollars to pay for public transportation? You’ll save money by getting transit tickets & passes tax-free. Ask your employer for details on how to take advantage of this program.
Tri Delta Transit 2015 top logo#5: Free 20-ride Pass from Tri Delta Transit: The easiest way to find out if commuting by transit is for you is by giving it a try. Right now, Tri Delta Transit will let you do it for free. Let them know you want to commute by bus and they’ll send you a free 20-ride Pass, while supplies last. (Deadline to apply: February 14)
We want you to have the best possible experience while trying transit, so make sure to take advantage of all the resources available on the 511 Contra Costa website, with information on taking public transit, participating in vanpools, locating park-and-ride lots and much more. Happy commuting!

Photo: Eric Risberg, Associated Press

California DMV: No More Green 'Clean Air Vehicle' Decals to Issue (Jan. 2016)

cleanairsticker_greenThe California Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that Green Clean Air Vehicle decals – which allow single-occupant plug-in hybrids to use the HOV lane – are no longer being issued. In late 2015, the DMV hit their limit of 85,000 stickers.
Although the limit has been raised in the past, there is no guarantee that additional decals will be authorized in the coming months. The DMV will continue to accept applications without payment for people who want to go on a waitlist should additional decals be authorized.
White Clean Air Vehicle decals (for natural gas or 100% electric vehicles) are still available and an unlimited number can be issued. Both the Green and White decals are valid until 2019.
For more information, visit the California DMV’s decal information page or call 800-242-4450.

Construction: I-680 from Walnut Creek to San Ramon (Through Fall 2016)

bayareaexpresslanes
Bay Area Express Lanes I-680Construction of a portion of the Bay Area Express Lanes on I-680 (between Walnut Creek and San Ramon) has begun and is scheduled to last approximately 15 months. Construction includes installation of variable message signs and overhead toll readers, concrete foundations for overhead freeway sign structures, and laying conduit and fiber optic communications cables for traffic management system communications.
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is scheduling construction work so that it will have minimal impacts on traffic. Construction will mainly occur at night, although there may be occasional activity on the shoulder and on arterial streets adjacent to the highway during the day to complete the communications network. Nighttime construction will typically involve closing one or two highway lanes, depending on the nature of the work.

Click for More on How Express Lanes Work

Express Lanes are specially-designated highway lanes that offer toll-free travel for carpools, vanpools, transit, motorcycles and eligible clean air vehicles. Solo drivers also have the choice to pay a toll to use the lanes for a more reliable trip. The Express Lanes between Walnut Creek and San Ramon will have an open access configuration, similar to HOV lanes.
The I-680 Express Lanes between Walnut Creek and San Ramon are scheduled to open in fall of 2016. For more information, you can visit bayareaexpresslanes.org or email info@bayareaexpresslanes.org to request project updates.
Construction is a dynamic process and information is subject to change without notice. Work is subject to weather conditions.

Are You HOV Eligible? (2013)

CADMV
(If in doubt, check the DMV website.)
With so many fuel efficient motor vehicles on the market these days it’s difficult to keep track of which has what special technology to help you save gas. However with notorious Bay Area traffic, perhaps more important to keep track of here– which ones qualify for use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes by single occupant vehicles ?
California law allows single-occupant use of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOVs) lanes by certain qualifying clean alternative fuel vehicles however  they require a Clean Air Vehicle Sticker issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. Unfortunately the yellow stickers commuters may have first grown accustomed to a few years are no longer valid– that program ended on 7/1/2011 and vehicles that qualified for the yellow stickers do not qualify for any other type of decals. The two types of stickers that are currently being distributed are (Via CA–DMV):

White Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available to an unlimited number of qualifying Federal Inherently Low Emission Vehicles (ILEVs). Cars that meet these requirements are typically certified pure zero emission vehicles (100% battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell) and compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles. The expiration date for the white stickers has been extended to January 1, 2015.
Green Clean Air Vehicle Stickers are available to the first 40,000 applicants that purchase or lease cars meeting California’s Enhanced Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emission Vehicle (AT PZEV) requirement.

To see a full list of which cars are eligible for HOV lane use, head over to the CA-DMV.

(Note: The CA-DMV notes the 2012 and 2013 Chevy Volt are eligible for HOV lane use  sticker if purchased with Low Emission Package– in California the Chevy Volt comes standard with the Low Emission Package so no additional purchase is needed to qualify for the sticker.)

Low-Emission Id for High-Occupancy Lane Use

Do you drive a low-emission motor vehicle? Would you like to get a sticker so you can use a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane??

Vehicles meeting specified emissions standards may be issued CAV decals allowing the vehicle to utilize the HOV (carpool or diamond) lanes of California’s freeways while being driven by a single occupant. Image via: CA DMV

Check out the DMV’s Section 5205.5  and see if your car has what it takes to qualify for a sticker.

Yellow Clean Air Stickers – Expiring July 2011?

From: the California DMVVehicles that meet strict clean air requirements are given special white and yellow stickers and allowed to use carpool lanes on California’s freeways. Unfortunately, vehicles with the yellow stickers may find themselves stuck in traffic again soon.
The stickers represent different kinds of vehicle efficiency. To have a white sticker, a car must meet both California’s Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV) standard for exhaust emissions and the federal Inherently Low-Emission Vehicle (ILEV) evaporative emission standard. Yellow stickers are given to hybrid or alternative fuel cars that reach over 45 miles per gallon at highway speeds.
As we posted earlier, the yellow stickers for hybrids have already been extended once. Their new expiration date is fast approaching. After July 1, 2011, the yellow sticker program will end. The white sticker program will last a bit longer, through January 1, 2015.
Want to cling to the carpool lanes? This might be a good chance to explore casual carpool.