HOV lanes give edge to vehicles carrying a full load of riders

Transportation planners have often proposed lanes for high-occupancy vehicles (HOV) as a means of reducing congestion and lowering fuel costs for drivers. This supplementary measure to carpooling has been adopted by countries abroad which now provide a separate lane for vehicles carrying more than one passenger (and, in many cases, more than two passengers). In Greece, vehicles carry an average of 1.1 to 1.2 passengers (2.2 passengers is considered full capacity), with the lowest rates at peak times, making car trips during these times 10 times longer than under regular traffic conditions. Saving time The only study on implementing an HOV lane in a Greek city was made in December 2001 by Panayiotis Papaioannou, a professor at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and transport expert Giorgos Georgiou. The study examined the hypothetical implementation of an HOV lane for a distance of 3.5 kilometers along the coastal road in Thessaloniki linking Kalamaria to the White Tower. The findings showed that turning the bus lane into an HOV lane would reduce travel time and fuel consumption significantly. HOVs would save at least 18 percent on travel time, travel time would be reduced by 2,737 hours per annum for all vehicles and 3,121 fewer liters of fuel would be consumed. The total economic benefit would amount to 8,800 euros per hour at peak time and 4.4 million euros per year. Many benefits «It is certain that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages by applying such measures,» Papaioannou said. «The problem is applying the measure correctly in combination with other measures – mainly proper policing and the creation of privileged parking areas for carpoolers so as to ensure there are no violations and the lane operates and facilitates travelers.» He highlighted findings from the study that «as with all measures that aim to manage traffic, it is necessary to apply the maxim that whatever is gained from a measure must yield results for either pedestrians or other more acceptable means of transport than the car.»