OLYMPIA, Wash. — After 37 years, the “764-HERO” program used to report carpool lane violators will end on Sept. 22.
The Washington State Department of Transportation began the program in 1984 to educate high-occupancy lane violators about the purpose, rules and benefits of the freeway lanes.
The goal was to encourage travelers to call 1-877-764-HERO to help enforce HOV lane rules in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. It was expanded in 2010 to include Washington State Ferries waiting lanes.
After receiving reports from the phone number, WSDOT mails first-time violators educational materials. Second-time HOV lane violators are sent a letter from WSDOT, and third-time violators are sent a letter from the Washington State Patrol.
WSDOT officials said the program helped influence drivers to comply when HOV lanes were relatively new in Washington.
The program is being ended because most drivers are familiar with how HOV lanes and ferry lines work. The Washington State Patrol will continue to issue violations.
Over the next few months, crews will begin removing the “764-HERO” signs across King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. The signs will be gradually replaced with signs showing the fine for improperly using HOV lanes.
Violators could be fined $186 for the first offense and up to $536 for those who are repeat offenders and also have a mannequin, doll or dummy to make it appear as if there’s another person in the car, according to WSDOT.
The 1-877-764-HERO number will remain active through mid-November, but callers will hear a recorded message about the end of the program and won’t be able to leave a message.
Funding for the program will be redirected to safety improvements and traffic operations.
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