HOV lane regulations and enforcement stir strong opinions among readers

The high occupancy vehicle lanes are largely empty in both directions on Interstate 15 near the ...

Nothing gets motorists riled up like a good ol’ fashioned carpool lane talk.

After last week’s edition of the Road Warrior, several readers let their feelings be known about the high occupancy vehicle lanes in the Las Vegas Valley and current regulations tied to them.

Let’s just say they’re not happy.

The HOV system in Las Vegas includes 22 continuous miles of carpool lanes running on Interstate 15 from Silverado Ranch Boulevard to the Spaghetti Bowl and then on U.S. Highway 95 from the Spaghetti Bowl to Elkhorn Road.

When the carpool lanes on I-15 opened to drivers in 2019, new regulations went into effect that require at least two passengers in vehicles using the lanes.

State troopers also began enforcing the regulation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Previously, they were enforced only during peak morning and evening traffic hours on weekdays along U.S. 95. That left the lanes open to general traffic during non-peak traffic hours each weekday and 24/7 on weekends.

The 24-hour enforcement was just the tip of the iceberg for the faithful Review-Journal readers. Many want the lanes opened to every driver at all times.

Here are some of the readers’ thoughts on carpool lanes in Southern Nevada.

“Ridiculous,” reader Kristina wrote in an email. “This town nor any other city I have been in doesn’t have 24-hour HOV lanes … don’t know where they got their ‘data.’ ”

John Moran Jr., a 75-year-old lifelong Nevadan, focused on the use of taxpayer money to develop the lanes and noted the Nevada Department of Transportation’s plan to review the HOV lanes’ usefulness.

“The majority of people do not want HOV lanes that aren’t being used and are empty,” Moran wrote. “So typical NDOT response is ‘let’s study it’ until the public outcry and outrage goes away … news flash the people aren’t going away. Taxpayer dollars went into creating additional lanes for easing traffic flow, yet our highway gurus want studies conducted for years to arrive at the same conclusion that more lanes are now needed and should not be restricted by government regulation on their immediate timely use.”

Seeing single-occupant vehicles using the carpool lanes was a big complaint of many readers. Sajjad Vine said he sees this on a daily basis.

“I fully understand that cops can’t follow every car all the time, but if you drive from say Russell to all the way up you will find multiple cars breaking the HOV rules,” Vine said. He said “every 3rd or 4th car” has just one person in it and drivers constantly weave in and out of the double white lines.

“I drive Uber and Lyft and I see this all the time,” Vine added.

Gary Sekelsky, who lives in the Centennial Hills area, isn’t opposed to the HOV lanes, but he wants them to be appropriately regulated. If not, then he would rather have them gone.

“I have lived here in Las Vegas for the last 5 years,” Sekelsky wrote. “Since the onset of the HOV lanes, I (also) have seen excessive use of them by (1 person in vehicle) cars.

Sekelsky noted a particular area of interest on the HOV lane system — the entrance ramp on Elkhorn.

“I CONSISTENTLY witness the majority of drivers entering here ONE person vehicles, and I NEVER see any law enforcement anywhere near that ramp.” Sekelsky said. “Totally useless application of the HOV here in LV. We should either enforce it (much better than we are) or modify it appropriately or eliminate it.”

Sekelsky applauded NDOT for the improvements being made to the freeway system as the city continues to grow. “But the HOV program as it exists today is HIGHLY inefficient and ineffective,” he said.

While NDOT is in the midst of a study on the lanes’ usefulness, do not expect it to lead to the end of HOV lanes as we know them. A more plausible outcome is a return to a modified schedule of enforcement similar to what existed on U.S. 95 before.

But the study’s outcome will be an important one, given the long-term goal of adding more HOV lanes on valley highways — including portions of the 215 Beltway between Summerlin Parkway and U.S. 95 in Henderson — in the future.

Contact Mick Akers at makers@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2920. Follow @mickakers on Twitter. Send questions and comments to roadwarrior@reviewjournal.com.