DC-area commuters arrange impromptu ride sharing with "slug lines"

District Chronicles reports on how commuters around DC are gathering in public places to share rides in order take advantage of HOV lanes:

“Slug lines” are lines of people that form along major corridors to ride share with vehicles headed in a similar direction allowing for use of HOV lanes for faster commutes.[…]

With the increase in numbers of people waiting near curbs and crowding sidewalks, safety, traffic problems, backups and congestion are now real concerns for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

DDOT traffic and safety experts recently launched a survey asking drivers and passengers to assess the specific needs and concerns of those using the “slug lines” as well as determining a safer location for lines to form.

It’s hard to imagine an initiative like HOV (high-occupancy vehicle; only cars with multiple passengers allowed) lanes could be more successful. People are coming together in ad-hoc groups to take advantage of the offered incentive and thus achieving the desired effects (decreased congestion and fuel consumption).

But it seems that the unexpected consequence of this success is the way real people condense in real places to form these lines. This has become such a concern that municipal authorities are now looking into creating new spaces to accomodate the behavior they’ve incentivized:

“We have no problem with the slug lines and want to work with the motorists who engage in this impromptu arrangement, but officers cannot ignore vehicles creating a hazard, or blocking lanes of traffic,” said MPD Chief Cathy Lanier. “We are working with DDOT and the motorists to find a solution to serve everyone.”

As part of the new pilot traffic engineers and safety experts are working to identify nearby locations that will meet the needs of the riders while providing a safer waiting environment and fewer traffic tie-ups.