Arizona Pilot Program Puts Single-Passenger Hybrids in HOV Lanes

February 15, 2007

Fuel-efficient hybrid cars may now use the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on Arizona highways, even if the only passenger is the driver, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano announced February 9 in a news release. The policy is a change from requiring multiple passengers for all vehicles in such lanes. The change is part of the newly enacted Energy Efficient Pilot Program under Arizona’s Clean Air Initiative.

"Drivers who make the commitment to clean air and energy efficiency will get an easier commute. That seems like a good trade to me," Napolitano said.

Vehicles that achieve a 45 percent increase in combined city and highway fuel efficiency may participate in the program. Currently, three types of vehicles qualify: the Honda Insight, the Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Toyota Prius. Owners of those cars must apply for the program through the Motor Vehicle Division of the Arizona Department of Transportation. Once admitted to the pilot, owners will receive a special license plate and sticker. The program is limited to 10,000 vehicles on a first-come, first-served basis. There are currently about 9,000 eligible cars registered in Arizona.

The pilot program also changes the rules for drivers of flexible-fuel vehicles. Under the program’s terms, and according to federal law, flexible-fuel vehicles operating with only the driver onboard will no longer be allowed to use HOV lanes. However, any vehicle carrying two or more people may continue to use the special lanes, and flexible-fuel vehicle owners will still qualify for reduced vehicle license taxes.

For more information, see the governor’s February 9 press release (PDF 30KB).