California green carpool stickers are all gone

California has an extensive network of special traffic lanes designed to encourage commuters to carpool to work and back. A car must have three or more passengers in it to use one of those lanes.

Years ago, lawmakers in California decided to offer people an incentive to drive a low or zero emissions car. It would allow them to use the commuter lanes, even if there was only one person in the car. To prevent cheating, it created three kinds of stickers — yellow for hybrids like the Toyota Prius, green for plug-in cars like the Chevy Volt, and white for electric cars like the Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model S.

The yellow stickers are no no longer valid. Plain old hybrid technology is old hat in California. The green stickers are limited to a total of 85,000 statewide. Now that total has been reached and the state must decide whether to increase the limit again, as it has done several times before. There is no limit on white stickers.

Transportation officials caution that there are so many cars with green or white stickers on the road that the commuter lanes in some parts of the state are overwhelmed during rush hour. They argue that allowing all those single occupant cars is defeating the purpose of commuter lanes — encouraging people to carpool.

The state legislature will now have to figure out whether to increase the allotment of green stickers once again or build new roads to handle California’s ever increasing traffic congestion.