After years of smugly wheeling down the high-occupancy vehicle (carpool) lanes all by your lonesomes, while other users had to have a passenger or two, you hybrid pilots lose the perk.
The California DMV says, "On July 1, 2011, hybrid vehicles carrying the yellow sticker will no longer be allowed to operate in an HOV/carpool lane unless the minimum passenger requirements are met. This expiration date will not be extended."
That yellow sticker allowing traffic-jam-skirting solo passage in the HOV lanes was a big draw. In fact, once California quit issuing stickers, the prices of older Priuses, Insights, Escape hybrids and the like that had the stickers rose higher than new versions of those hybrids, whose owners no longer could get the stickers.
But, the state says, people considering newer technologies that might save even more fuel and emit even fewer pollutants could use a hand.
So DMV says, "A new Green HOV sticker program will be in effect as of Jan. 1, 2012, to promote the use of the next generation of hybrid and other technologies." Some vehicles already on the market -- typically, electrics and natural-gas-fueled vehicles -- can qualify for white stickers that provide HOV solo-occupant use until Jan.1, 2015.
Trade that old Prius for the likes of a modified-for-California Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric and jump back into the HOV lanes when you're flying solo.
Because driving that previously privileged Prius, stuck in traffic behind the Hummers, Navigators and Escalades of the world, surely is going to sting.