For Whom the HOV Tolls
Every day, as I wait for the shuttle to the Metro, I see lines of cars stretching off into the distance. Ninety plus percent of them have a single occupant, heading to work.
Of course DC does have reversible HOV lanes, and is known for the practice called "slugging," in which people in the outer areas park their cars in designated lots, and people stop by to pick up random fellow commuters so they can use the HOV lanes to head to work. Still, the limitless stream of bumper-to-bumper cars with single occupants demonstrate that people don't value their time as much as they do their independence.
What we need to do, therefore, is raise the cost of independence through a means other than time. Since the HOV lanes are already separated from the rest of the traffic flow, I propose putting tolls on the non-HOV lanes. Single occupant vehicles would be taxed via the tolls, whereas high occupant vehicles could cruise straight through onto the toll-free HOV lanes. If nothing else convinces people to take the bus, metro, train, or slug, watching their fellow commuters zip by while they wait to pay a toll might do it.