Q Signs on Interstate 280 through downtown San Jose say the carpool fine is $271 ... On northbound Interstate 680 right after I-580, signs list a carpool ticket as costing $360. Then on 680 in Contra Costa County it's $381. ... New signs on Interstate 880 in San Jose say a carpool ticket would cost a cheater $491. ... What is the current fine for carpool violations?

Donna Fielding, Miguel Arias, Frank Ramirez and Rob Garlow and more

A The fine is $491. These signs often include the words "Minimum Fine" underneath the dollar amount, because they typically go up every few years when fines are reassessed by the state. It's cheaper this way than replacing signs statewide. Carpool tickets, however, are not moving violations.

Q Do you know the reasoning behind Santa Clara County expressways having carpool lanes on the right instead of the left?

Rodney

A It's so buses can use the right lane and make stops next to the curb to pick up and drop off passengers.

Q Carpool hours on Highway 87 end at 9 a.m., but the metering light at Santa Teresa Boulevard stays on well beyond 9 a.m. Twice it took me more than 18 minutes waiting to get onto the freeway. This is crazy. Either speed up this metering light or turn it off at 9 a.m. What can be done about this?

Brenda Chan


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San Jose

A All the meters from Santa Teresa to Skyport Boulevard are on from 6 to 10 a.m. because traffic delays on 87 extend well beyond 9 a.m. You will see the same hours at other locations as traffic congestion increases. Caltrans will check the 87 meter at Santa Teresa because the 18-minute wait you experienced does seem long.

Q Are there plans to improve the ramp from Charcot Avenue onto south Highway 87? It can easily take 15 to 20 minutes in the evening to make it to the metering light. It would be wonderful to have a carpool lane onto the freeway from that point.

Kristina Bullock

San Jose

A I'm afraid not. The ramp is on the flyover from North First Street, and the state says widening it to three lanes would be too expensive. And they won't convert one of the two existing lanes into a carpool lane because demand here is too heavy. Maximum delays of around six minutes would be much longer if one lane were converted into a carpool lane.

Q Can you please settle a long-standing bet? I say that if an entrance to a freeway includes a carpool lane, and no time frame exists for its enforcement, i.e. Monday-Friday, 6-9 a.m. or 3-7 p.m., then it is a carpool lane requiring at least two drivers, 24 hours a day, 7 days a day and 365 days a year. At least half a dozen colleagues at work tell me that this is not true and the same limitations apply to its enforcement as lanes marked on the freeways themselves.

Jason Englund

San Jose

A Lunch was the wager, so you'll be eating at your co-workers' expense for a few days. When no hours are listed at ramps, carpool rules are in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is the case at almost all ramps with carpool lanes from city streets.

Q I have a reverse commute down Highway 85 in the morning, and while there's almost no traffic on the road, there's almost always someone driving 5 to 10 mph under the speed limit. I was wondering. Can I use the HOV lane to pass these road boulders and then move back into the middle lane?

Seth Manischewitz

San Jose

A No.

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