We play devil’s advocate and ask all the burning questions you might have regarding METRO HOT Lanes. Here’s how the conversation plays out…

What are METRO HOT Lanes?
The METRO HOT Lanes program opens up the METRO HOV Lanes to Single Occupancy Vehicle (SOV) users, for a small toll. Nothing changes for current HOV lane users.

Won’t METRO HOT Lanes make travel in the HOV Lanes slower?
No. The METRO HOT Lanes program does not impact current users of HOV Lanes. Single-occupant, toll-paying vehicles are allowed in the lane only during certain periods of operation. If speeds slow, single-occupant vehicles will not be allowed in the HOV Lane. The lane is also closed to single-occupant vehicles during peak traffic periods – specific to each METRO HOT Lane corridor.

Seriously, Houston has a huge network of HOV Lanes and we’re not getting the most out of them. By adding the additional tolling element, METRO has been able to upgrade the existing (i.e. old) technology on our HOV network to improve the entire system.

For instance – the current gates at each entrance to the HOV Lane have to be manually opened and closed. Now, by upgrading the corridor for the HOT Lanes program, the gates can be opened remotely. Not only is this great for convenience and reliability, it also allows METRO to quickly open an HOV Lane in an emergency.

OK. But now what’s the point for people to take the bus, carpool or vanpool each day?
METRO HOT Lanes won’t change anything for METRO buses, carpools, motorcycles or vanpools. Each one will still have unfettered and free access to use the HOV Lanes and will reap the benefits of combining commutes. METRO HOT Lanes usage does not provide any reduction in gas or parking costs typically associated with single-car travel between Downtown and home, which is one of the major reasons to ride the bus or carpool.

TouchÉ. How Will enforcement know if I paid a toll as a METRO HOT Lanes user?
METRO HOT Lanes are equipped with two lane splits at key points along the lane, called verification lanes. Spotter booths are located at each verification point – booth spotters check to make sure vehicles passing through the “HOV ONLY” lane have multiple occupants. If a single-occupant driver does not use the METRO HOT Lanes “TOLL ONLY” tolling lane, the registered vehicle owner will be cited with a toll violation notice.

Speaking of tolls, how much will it cost to ride in the METRO HOT Lanes?
Tolls are based on time of day and the congestion level of each METRO HOT Lane.  METRO will publish the toll rate for specific corridors prior to opening and tolls will be prominently displayed at every lane entrance. METRO will actively monitor the lanes to ensure optimal travel times for existing HOV Lane users, as well as those using the METRO HOT Lanes.

Digital signage is located at each entry point to the METRO HOT Lane and clearly states toll prices. The toll you pay will always be the amount indicated on the sign when you entered the lane and does not change during the course of your trip. If the price goes up or down while you are using the METRO HOT Lane, you are only be charged the toll indicated at your METRO HOT Lane entry point.

Click HERE to find out when new corridors come online.

What happens if I pay to use the METRO HOT LanEs and there is an accident that slows down traffic? Do I get a refund?
No. While you will not receive a refund, HOV/HOT Lanes have been outfitted with a camera-monitoring system so that response teams can diagnose issues quickly.

How is the money generated BY the METRO HOT Lanes tolls going to be used?
Money collected from tolls contributes to the operating, maintenance and enforcement costs of the METRO HOT Lanes.

What if I’m driving with my child in the back seat – how will the police officers know I’m HOV eligible?
Easy – when you see an officer in the lane, roll down the window (if possible) and point to the back seat where your child is located. They’ll verify you have more than one occupant and you’re good to go.

Anything else I should know?
Yes. Check back here to receive updates on new METRO HOT Lanes corridors. Each corridor is different (much like each area of the region is unique), but it’s the nuances that make life interesting.

I was skeptical at first, but this sounds pretty cool.
We thought you would like it.