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Sound Transit CEO suggests requiring more than 2 people for carpool lane use

The head of Sound Transit suggest raising the minimum requirement for local HOV lanes from more than two people.

"We have HOV-2 around here in a lot of places," CEO Peter Rogoff told Eastside political leaders last month. "That's not the norm."

Rogoff says HOV lanes in the Seattle area with a two-person minimum perform poorly, and Sound Transit's express buses often get stuck in bad traffic when they take the lanes.

"I know it's difficult politically but at some point you're going to face down that two is not HOV in the vast majority of the rest of the world," Rogoff said.

Rogoff's comments were recorded and posted online by David Hablewitz of the group Stop 405 Tolls.

"The idea that we're going to push all those two plus into the general purpose lanes is just going to slow down the general purpose lanes further," Hablewitz said.

Travis Phelps of the Washington State Department of Transportation had a similar reaction to Rogoff's idea.

"We'd have to view it very cautiously," Phelps said. "It could have some significant effects for congestion in our mainline lanes if we don't think this all the way through."

Phelps said different roadways have different needs.

HOV lanes on State Route 520 already require a minimum of three people.

Three people are also required for non-paying drivers using I-405 Express Toll Lanes during peak commutes.

When HOV lanes on I-5 first opened north of Seattle in 1983, they required at least three people.

The current two-plus system on I-5 was first tested in 1991.

The problem can be not enough three-person cars and too many two-person cars.

That's why the state has started charging tolls for solo drivers in the HOV lanes on I-405 and SR167 to manage traffic flow.

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