National Geographic : 1981 Feb 28
IFE IN THE FAST LANES belongs to car and van pools, as well as commuter buses, for rush-hour sprints back and forth across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (above). Pool vehicles with three rid ers aboard are exempt from tolls, and con trol lights for their exclusive lanes are always green. Not far away, along the equally busy Golden Gate Bridge corridor, riders and drivers have joined in cooperative hitchhik ing called the Commuter Connection. In stead of a thumb, each hiker displays a sign noting his destination. Drivers with similar signs on their sun visors make the pickup. As ingenious as some energy- and money saving uses of cars may be, a very large prob lem remains for American cars. The popu larity of small, fuel-efficient imports, such as the ranks of mostly Japanese cars put ashore in Long Beach, California (right), has brought economic dislocation to domes tic producers. Blame has been passed out in many directions, and while solutions may be in sight, they are not yet in hand. America's love affair with the car goes on, with the sub compact its new object. After all, is the Cali fornia Kid much bigger?