Transportation

Some Houston Veterans Can Now Drive the HOT Lanes For Free

The lanes are open to qualifying veterans who register with the agency.

HOV lane on U.S. 59 South in Houston
Transportation planners say allowing for two-way traffic on the U.S. 59 South HOV lane would help ease congestion.

Tom Mitchell sees a lot of what veterans go through in Houston. He’s the Texas Executive Director of U.S. Vets, an organization that provides housing and counseling.

He says there are many veterans who are struggling financially. A couple of dollars for a bus ride or a toll can take a bite out of a tight budget.

“A lot of them need the help,” says Mitchell. “They need to be able to go visit family. They need to go to the V.A. Hospital. They need to go to job interviews.”

And those trips could get a little easier, now that Metro is allowing qualifying veterans to use its HOT lanes for freeThose are the toll lanes that give solo drivers access to the HOV system during non-peak hours. They’re on I-45, U.S. 59, and U.S. 290.

Metro CEO Tom Lambert says the program is open to drivers who have state-issued veterans license plates. That includes disabled veterans and recipients of medals of valor. They also have to register with Metro.

“During the non-HOV hours when the tolls are paid, those disabled veterans that meet that qualification, that have the disabled plate, can use the HOV for 100% discount,” explains Lambert.

Metro already offers free bus and train rides to veterans who qualify.

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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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