Commuters Could Dodge Heavy Houston Traffic With HOT Lanes

Nearly five months after opening the I-45 South HOV lane to single drivers, Metro says people are getting used to the idea of paying a toll to avoid backups on the main lanes. They're hoping many more drivers will start to take advantage of what they call an "under-utilized asset."

Metro kicked off what’s known as the HOT lanes in late February. 

As for how they work, solo drivers with a toll tag can use the HOV lane that runs along the Gulf Freeway from downtown to Dixie Farm Road. The toll can be anywhere from a $1.00 to $4.50 and the amount is based on freeway congestion.

Metro CEO George Greanias says figures show about 450 drivers a day are willing to pay those tolls.

“Which is just about where the projections indicated where we would be at this point. Longer term, over the first 15 months of the program, we expect the use to be around 2,400 vehicles. That would be sometime next May of 2013.”

Hot LaneGreanias says they opened the lanes to toll-paying solo drivers because they’re not used to full capacity as strictly HOV lanes. He says they’re working to let more people know they have the option of using the lanes if they’re driving by themselves and don’t want to deal with freeway backups.

“I think the most important thing is to get people comfortable with using the lanes.  And that means the signage needs to be very clear,  that people need to be given a lot of information so if they want to use it they know how to get into it, that contrary-wise if they don’t want to use it they don’t get into it.”

Houston’s second HOT lane is opening later this month on U.S. 59 South. 

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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