Transportation

Metro Considers A New Option To Stop HOV Lane Violators

Everyone who uses Metro’s HOV and HOT lanes may eventually have to get a toll tag, even if they don’t have to pay. Transit officials are looking for way to keep solo drivers from getting on the lanes illegally.

At least two people have to be in a vehicle to use the HOV lanes, and those are free. Solo drivers can pay to use the lanes during non-peak hours if they have a toll tag. The lanes are supposed to maintain a speed of at least 45 MPH but Metro says the problem is that too many people are getting on illegally.

As for enforcement, Metro board member Jim Robinson says it’s tricky.

“The way those things are designed, you really can’t stop someone in them without a tremendous risk of an officer being run over and killed,” explains Robinson.

Metro officials say they’re now studying whether everyone who uses the lanes should have a toll tag on their vehicle, even if they have a passenger and don’t have to pay. They say that would make it easier to identify who is and isn’t supposed to be there. As for how commuters would react to the proposal, Metro Chairman Gilbert Garcia thinks they’d like it.

“It’ll be taking off those cars who shouldn’t be there and give greater capacity to everyone else,” says Garcia. “There’s maybe some education involved but I think ultimately they’ll be pleased.”

The issue came up as Metro’s board discussed whether to allow qualifying veterans to use the lanes for free if they’re driving by themselves. The agency plans to launch a pilot program in April that offers free bus and rail rides for veterans who are at least 40 percent disabled.

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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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