If you want rightous indignation, how about the pregnant lady that was in the HOV lane "alone" in her car and was sited. The citation was overturned! Thank you liberal judges and sleezy lawyers prostituting the spirit of the law by hiding behind the letter of the law. (rant finished).
Premise: The ultimate goal of the HOV lane is to reduce pollution. Congested freeways cause more pollution. Letting ultra fuel efficient vehicles with only a driver use the HOV lane is a reward for actually doing something about gasoline dependence and air pollution caused by cars. Prius owners have put their money where their mouths are by buying these cars.
Who is allowed in: They have to draw the line somewhere as to which cars are allowed in the HOV lanes, and it was drawn at 45 MPG, that is, the EPA's mileage rating of the vehicle. The Prius meets that critera. Some other "fuel efficient" vehicles may not. Toyota's coming Highlander Hybrid will probably not make the cut. There will always be somebody that will have 2 people in a Hummer that gets 8MPG and be in the HOV lane. That defeats the spirit of the HOV lanes (to reduce pollution) but meets the letter of the law. (See above rant and apply it to gas hogs.)
More good reasons: Further, non-hybrid owners will see these hybrids flying past them on the congested freeways and be encouraged to drop gas guzzlers for more fuel efficient vehicles. Again, less pollution. Another good reason for letting the ultra fuel efficient in the HOV lane with any number of people in the vehicle. Increase their visibility and popularity.
Enforcement: As far as enforcement goes, it will be easy. All the police have to do is look for the decal that will be issued to qualifying cars, after the owner applies for it. (Do I hear the sound of the state cash registers ringing?) They don't even need to know what kind of car it is. One person in the car and no sticker, pull it over!
Over crowding: The proposed regulation lists a maximum number of decals that can be issued over the life of the bill. That number is significantly greater that the number of qualifying vehicles on the road. And still more than all that can be manufactured and put on the road during the time limitation of the bill. Further, the bill has a finite life span. It is not open to ALL future qualifying vehicles. In summary, the bill has several limitations that will ensure overcrowding the HOV lanes with hybrids can not happen.
Conclusion: The only reason somebody would not want to let the ultra fuel efficient vehicles in the HOV lanes is jelousy. "I don't have a AT-PZEV vehicle so you shouldn't get a privilage I can't have! Na na na!
(**** the air is thin up here on this soap box.)