Debbie Dujanovic Reporting Two lanes, one problem -- how to get more people carpooling on I-15.
Build it and they will come. For the carpool lanes on I-15 it's taken awhile, a few years to catch on. At first the numbers concerned U-DOT -- it appeared not enough Utah drivers were embracing the HOV lanes. Today, new statistics show use is up 35-percent from when the lanes opened in 2001.
Brent Wilhite, Utah Dept. of Transportation: "HOV lanes are now performing more effectively than they ever have."
The Utah Department of Transportation says today they count about 900 cars an hour using carpool lanes during the afternoon commute, up from 670 two years ago.
Brent Wilhite: "The study we completed this year looks at the three years of our HOV lanes and the numbers are up from previous year, so there is better acceptance levels."
UDOT expects carpooling to catch on even more next month when they extend the carpool lanes in both directions between 10600 South and Alpine, and when they throw out statistics like this: people who use the carpool lanes practically cut their afternoon commute time in half ---by 46-percent..
But it's hard not to notice how often the HOV lanes are empty. We drove for several miles along I-15 and didn't spot a single car in the carpool lane; UDOT knows it's got a lot of work ahead.
UDOT's considering a high-tech solution, one that would open the car pool lanes to everyone, even cars with just a driver. It's called HOT, High Occupancy Toll. Drivers buy a programmed device that's electronically "zapped" when they access a carpool lane.
UDOT says it's taking a serious look at the concept, another idea they hope will increase HOV use down the road. They say they are also trying to encourage carpooling with more ride-share parking lots along the freeway. There's a new one on Bangerter and I-15, and they've expanded the lots at the 12300 South and the Alpine exits.