In June 2011, hundreds of Prius owners gathered in the Mercury News parking lot to celebrate the removal of their yellow carpool stickers. These stickers had allowed drivers to use the carpool lanes as single motorists, but they were expiring on July 1st, 2011, taking away this privilege. The state had issued carpool stickers to promote sales of hybrid cars and to encourage people to be more fuel-efficient.
The expiration of the stickers meant that drivers like Gary Richards, the author of the article, would no longer be able to drive solo in the carpool lane, experiencing the freedom from traffic congestion that the carpool lane provided. To mark the end of this perk, a Prius party was thrown, with Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, even in attendance.
At the party, people came to remove their stickers and bid farewell to their carpool privileges. Free biscotti was given out, and donations were collected for the Second Harvest Food Bank. Car enthusiasts showed off their eco-friendly vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf and the Tesla. One volunteer even spent two hours removing stickers for free.
The carpool sticker program had been a success in boosting hybrid sales, with 423,180 hybrids registered in California alone. Now, the most coveted stickers were the white ones, which gave all-electric and alternative fuel vehicles access to the carpool lane. As of the time of the article, the state had issued over 15,000 white stickers.
In conclusion, the end of the yellow carpool stickers marked the end of an era for Prius drivers and other hybrid owners. While the loss of the carpool lane privilege was a sad moment for many, it also encouraged people to consider electric vehicles or carpooling as alternative options to beat traffic congestion.