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Associated Press

It's likely that single drivers in nearly every big city in the world have at one time looked enviously at HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes that allow cars with multiple drivers to zip past them during rush hour. But what happens to traffic congestion and travel times if you just abolish them? If the experience in Jakarta, Indonesia, is an indication, it's a huge mess, a new study finds.

Jakarta was, until recently, one of the most extreme examples of restrictive HOV policies anywhere in the world – made even more prominent by the fact that the city supports an immense population of 30 million. When Jakarta abruptly cancelled their HOV lanes that required three drivers per car, researchers were able to immediately see the aftermath. It wasn't pretty.

What they found: Ending the HOV advantages on major streets in Jakarta put so many additional cars on the road that it increased travel times for everyone by 87% during the evening rush hour, and by 46% during morning rush hour.

"Remarkably, lifting the HOV policy not only caused dramatic increases in travel time along the previously designated HOV roads, but along the parallel roads as well," the Harvard and MIT researchers wrote in Science.

What it means: If HOV lanes were dropped in cities like New York, Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro – where the commute times are already incredibly long - it could double the evening commute from an hour and a half to three hours.

Go deeper

Updated 52 mins ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.