Carpool Stickers to Expire for More Than 200,000 Solo Drivers in California

More than 200,000 drivers in California will lose the stickers that currently allow them to drive their electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles solo in the carpool lanes.

New rules coming Jan. 1 will not only impact those drivers, but could mean a much slower commute for everyone. The decision is also leading to big confusion about exactly who loses the stickers, and who does not.

Drivers who have a hybrid, zero emission or alternative fuel vehicle will need a red sticker to be in the carpool lane if they are driving alone.

Current solo drivers with electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles have a green or white sticker, which allows them to drive in the diamond lane. But on January 1, those stickers will expire and will affect more than 230,000 drivers statewide.

The new law is causing some confusion because anyone who recieve their stickers before 2017 will be forced out of the program for good. Anyone who got the sticker after 2017 can re-apply for four more years of carpool driving.

"I don't think it's very fair that now we are unable to get that anymore," San Jose-resident Ruby Lin said. Lin adds she is disappointed she will not be able to use the diamond lane in her 2016 Chevy Volt.

The law was passed because too many cars, including diamond lane cheaters were clogging up the carpool lanes.

The transportation advocacy group, Transform, supports the change.

"By unclogging the carpool lanes, it will get people back to using transit and incentive to be in electric vehicles for a fast ride for three years," said Stuart Cohen, Transform executive director.

Another critical note: if you are among the lucky drivers who got your white or green sticker in 2017 or 2018, you need to apply for a new red sticker as soon as possible in order to use the carpool lane come New Years Day.

There are also new financial restrictions: higher income drivers who qualify for the solo carpool program will have to choose between getting a decal or receiving the state rebate.

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