Quantifying the environmental impacts of increasing high occupancy vehicle lanes in the United States

Roxana J. Javid, Ali Nejat, Katharine Hayhoe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


To what extent will increasing High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane-kilometer incentivize carpooling and reduce emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases? To answer these questions, we develop a multiple regression model relating HOV lanes and other socioeconomic factors to carpooling propensity in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, then calculate the extent to which increasing HOV lane-kilometers would lead to reductions in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) and major air pollutants across the U.S., by state. Increasing HOV lane extent has the greatest potential to reduce annual CO2e in the District of Columbia, followed by Hawaii and New York. The smallest potential is found in states with the lowest population density, led by North Dakota. We then explore the extent to which recommendations made at one level of data aggregation (that of individual states) may be valid for another level, such as individual counties. The only state with sufficient data available to disaggregate the model to the county level is California, where we found a lower potential for state-wide CO2e emission reductions under the county-level model as compared to the state-level model (0.69% as compared to 1.08%, under the same hypothetical scenario), albeit with significant differences in emission reduction potential between counties with higher vs. lower population densities. This analysis demonstrates the potential to generate generalizable insight into the magnitude of vehicle emission reductions that might be achieved through expanding HOV lanes, and highlights the importance of data disaggregation in identifying the optimal locations for potential reductions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-174
Number of pages20
JournalTransportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • Air pollutants
  • COe
  • Carbon emission reductions
  • Carpooling
  • HOV lanes
  • Transportation Infrastructure


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