HOV 3 Facts

HOV 3 is now in effect.

HOV stands for High Occupancy Vehicles, which is the term used for carpool vehicles. HOV 3 means a carpool with a driver, plus two passengers. In February 2013, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Commission and Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) passed a resolution that all CDOT HOV Express Lanes would change from HOV 2 to HOV 3 on Jan. 1, 2017.

Colorado has passed the point where it can build its way out of congestion. With the state's population exploding and transportation funding decreasing, CDOT and the High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) must look at innovative ways to move traffic across the state.

Express Lanes, which are being built throughout the state, help relieve congestion without the need for a lot of infrastructure (new or widened highways) and provide a desperately needed source of funding for transportation. HOV 3 ensures that those lanes remain free-flowing now and into the future, so that those who choose to ride the bus, pay a toll, or carpool always have a reliable and faster trip.

In addition, getting more people into carpools with HOV 3 reduces overall congestion and vehicle emissions—a good thing for a state with a growing population.

Express Lanes have always been about choice. There are many options now and after the HOV 3 change in 2017. You can:

  • Use the general purpose lanes. Free general purpose lanes always exist alongside CDOT's Express Lanes. Drivers benefit from less congestion in those lanes because of the traffic that diverts to the Express Lanes.
  • Ride the bus. RTD has many options for a fast commute, including bus rapid transit (BRT) along the US 36 corridor. Visit the RTD website to explore your options.
  • Pay a toll. Go to to get a pass, and pay lower tolls for a quick-and-easy trip.
  • Find an additional friend and carpool. CDOT and HPTE will be providing free HOV switchable transponders to those who wish to exclusively carpool. Get yours at

    We also have a growing list of partners ready to help you find a third person for your carpool. Those partners include:

HOV Purists: Drivers who have a switchable HOV transponder and only ever use it in carpool mode

ExpressToll: Name of the pass for Colorado's Express Lanes and toll roads

E470: A Colorado toll road and also the provider for CDOT and HPTE’s toll administration and customer service center specifically for tolling questions

Northwest Parkway: Colorado toll road

Express Lanes: Describes CDOT's system of HOV/toll and toll-only lanes

HOV Express Lanes: Express Lanes that offer toll and free carpool options

Toll: The price charged for using the toll road or Express Lane

License Plate Toll: Toll-plus charges to process and mail the bill to the driver

ExpressToll Pass types and cost:

  • Sticker: No cost; for toll use only
  • Switchable HOV Transponder: Allows carpool/HOV or toll use; costs $15 or free to HOV Purists*

How to set up an account:

  1. Online at, or call 303-537-3470.
  2. $35 balance to open a new account; accounts can have multiple vehicles and/or motorcycles on them.
  3. HOV Purists can set up for free*.

*Starting Spring 2017, HOV Purists will be able to receive a Switchable HOV Transponder for free or be reimbursed for their prior costs.

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Colorado: The Official State Web Portal