Gas Hybrids No Longer Qualify For Express Lane

Sep 30, 2019, 1:25 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2020, 6:10 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If you drive a clean vehicle, there have been some changes that might impact your daily commute.

A law expired Sept. 29 that allowed gasoline-powered hybrid vehicles to qualify for the Clean Vehicle Program. Moving forward, single-occupant gas hybrid cars with Clean Vehicle Pass stickers will no longer be able to travel in the Express Lane on the freeways, and drivers could face a hefty fine if caught doing so.

“Low emission and energy-efficient vehicles are generally hybrid vehicles that achieve a 50% or better in-city fuel economy or a 25% or better city/highway fuel economy compared to a similar gasoline-fueled vehicle,” according to the Utah Department of Transportation’s website. “There are 4,895 current low emission and energy-efficient vehicles with Clean Vehicle Permits and 1,078 on the waitlist. These vehicles will no longer qualify.”

“Back in 2005 when this law was enacted, hybrid vehicles were much less common than they are right now,” said UDOT Spokesperson John Gleason.

In the past, UDOT allowed hybrids and other low-emission and energy-efficient vehicles to be exempt from toll requirements after the owners applied and were approved for the Clean Vehicle Pass. However, gas hybrids have been dropped from the list of approved cars, and now they must follow the same Express Lane rules as all other vehicles.

Owners of qualifying vehicles can fill out a Clean Vehicle Pass Application online and pay a $10 fee.

“The electrics, buses, motorcycles — they’re still allowed in with just a single occupant,” Gleason said. “But (gas) hybrid vehicles as of today are going to be under the same rules as everyone else.”

Plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles and alternative-fuel vehicles are still eligible for an Express Lane exemption until Sept. 29, 2025, according to UDOT’s website.

Drivers can apply for an Express Pass, which uses a transponder, to pay a toll and travel in the Express Lane without having a passenger.

Drivers can apply for an Express Pass, which uses a transponder, to pay a toll and travel in the Express Lane without having a passenger.

Gleason said gas hybrid drivers can pay for the Express Pass if they still want to drive in the Express Lane with only one occupant.

An Express Pass costs $9.65 for a transponder, and the user’s account will be charged between 25 cents to $2 depending on the zone and level of traffic.

The fine for not obeying Express Lane laws is $337.

According to UDOT, the Express Lane is “intended to maximize freeway efficiency by encouraging carpools.”

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Gas Hybrids No Longer Qualify For Express Lane