Drivers on Interstate 15 and U.S. 95 in Las Vegas are baffled by the state’s designation of a previous express lane as a High-Occupancy Vehicle lane, reserved for vehicles with more than one occupant, motorcycles, trucks and buses.
Drivers complain the designation, part of the final implementation of a massive freeway overhaul known as Project Neon, has created bottlenecks in areas where traffic previously flowed smoothly, while the HOV lane has little traffic.
“If you look at them during the day, they’re not being used. They’re empty,” says Councilman Stavros Anthony, who wants enforcement only during peak traffic hours — from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
Regional Transportation Commission director Tina Quigley says buses make limited use of the lanes.
“The Centennial Hills Express and Westcliff/Airport Express utilize the HOV lanes along US-95 portions of their routing,” Quigley told the Current. “The portions along I-15 will not be utilized by transit at this time due to the short duration of the bus on the freeway.”
Those services run hourly most of the time, says Quigley, and every 30 minutes during peak hours.
“When these were first put in place, people became very upset because these lanes were paid for by taxpayers and they were frustrated because they couldn’t use them,” Anthony complained Wednesday at the city council meeting. “It was created to get people to carpool. That’s what people say about them. They were put in to make people change their driving habits. That’s not going to happen in Las Vegas.”
“HOV lanes are a waste of time and they don’t deal with congestion,” Anthony said. “If it was up to me, I’d get rid of them completely,” Anthony said. “They were changed without our input.”
But the Department of Transportation says the City of Las Vegas was well aware of plans to enforce the HOV lanes 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The City has contributed more than $70 million to Project Neon,” says Department of Transportation spokesman Tony Illia. “This wouldn’t come as a surprise to them.”
Newly-elected councilwoman Victoria Seaman said the HOV lanes result in unnecessary citations without contributing to public safety.
“They wanted to create congestion to make it uncomfortable for us so we’d want to carpool,” Councilwoman Michelle Fiore stated.
The council unanimously approved the resolution to limit lane enforcement to peak hours. The resolution will be forwarded to the Department of Transportation.