As lawmakers worked late into the night Monday, the second to last day of the 2009-10 legislative session, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger took some action of his own, signing into law a measure expanding the list of environmentally friendly cars that qualify for permits to use carpool lanes.
The measure will allow up to 40,000 more California motorists to drive solo in the special lanes. It also extends the lifespan of existing permits for hybrid and electric vehicles. The bill, SB 535 by Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) and sponsored by General Motors
, would provide thousands of permits for new models of fuel-efficient cars, including G.M.'s Chevrolet Volt, due out later this year, as well as the new Toyota Prius and Nissan Leaf.
The measure, which now includes plug-in hybrids and hydrogen fuel cell cars, was opposed by some lawmakers who say carpool lanes are getting too congested because of all the special permits for solo drivers. But Yee said his bill was needed because new cars are being built with technology that was not available when the state began permitting fuel-efficient cars to use carpool lanes.