Free rides in fast lanes coming to an end for hybrid drivers

The Florida Department of Transportation plans to end free rides for registered hybrid vehicles using the I-95 express lanes in 2017.

07/19/2014 7:45 PM

07/19/2014 7:46 PM

To be perfectly honest, Bobby Wells, a Harley-riding, python-owning Miami lawyer, doesn’t really like his Toyota Prius.

But he does love that red and blue “95 Express” registration decal on the bottom left of his hybrid car’s windshield.

“Yeah,” said Wells, “the reason I bought this car was to get that sticker.”

I-95’s express lanes — where the price of admission ranges from 50 cents to $10.50 depending on traffic — are free to registered hybrids. But that’s not going to last forever.

In about three years, the free rides will be over. And Wells will almost certainly be done with his Prius.

As of May, Wells’ Prius and 3,840 other hybrid or inherently low-emission vehicles, or ILEVs, were registered for free express trips. Those vehicles made up 63 percent of all exempt trips, up from 56 percent a year ago. By comparison, registered carpools, which also ride the express lanes for free, represent just 13 percent of cost-free trips. Buses, van pools and motorcycles account for the rest.

The increasing popularity of hybrids has been a concern for the Florida Department of Transportation, which has jurisdiction over I-95.

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