The Arizona Department of Transportation is ending a program that issued specialty license plates for hybrid or energy-efficient vehicles.
According to a report appearing on the ABC 15 website, the program is due to end on March 2nd of this year. A spokesperson for the DOT said the reason why the program is ending is that Congress failed to extend the deadline in September that allowed drivers of certain hybrid vehicles unrestricted access to HOV lanes at all times.
The program was initiated in 2007 with a cap of 10,000 vehicles, a number that was reached within one year. The program re-opened in 2011 and in once again in 2015, allowing more owners of the hybrid vehicles to participate in the program. The specialty license plate program also allowed the owners of approved hybrid vehicles to transfer the plates to new cars that qualified so that they could continue to use the HOV lanes.
The DOT posted a notice on its website advising owners of hybrid vehicles that they would be allowed to continue to use the blue and white cloud plates on the cars that they currently own, but would no longer be allowed to transfer the plates to a new vehicle in the future.
The ending of the specialty plate program will in no way ease the congestion that drivers now face even when using the HOV lane. ABC 15’s Garret Archer found when researching his report that according to the DOT, just 18% of the vehicles participating in the program were hybrids, while 72% of those vehicles participating in the program are Teslas. The purely electric vehicles of PEVs have exploded in popularity in recent years and now, of the vehicles participating in the program last year, 90% are cars manufactured by Tesla.