Programs

Express Lanes FAQ

New Procedures for Motorcycles and Carpoolers

The House Transportation and Energy Committee voted no on Senate Bill 16-123 (SB 123) on April 21. The discussion, however, prompted new changes in the pass procedures for HOV Express Lanes, which include the following:

  • Motorcycles will no longer be required to have a pass to use CDOT’s High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Express Lanes for free.*

  • The High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) and CDOT will offer the Switchable HOV Transponder pass for free to drivers who are planning to carpool only in CDOT’s HOV Express Lanes.**

  • Drivers who have already purchased a Switchable HOV Transponder and have only used it in carpool mode will be given a refund.**

CDOT and HPTE are working on a timeline for the implementation of these changes. More information coming soon!

*Express or Toll lanes that do not allow HOV vehicles for free (E-470, Northwest Parkway, I-70 Mountain Express Lane) will still require a payment and/or a pass in order to avoid higher license plate charges.

**If drivers choose this option and use the transponder in “toll” mode on HOV Express Lanes or on E-470, Northwest Parkway or the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, a credit card on file will be charged for the cost of the transponder and to open an account.

Express Lanes Overview

What are Express Lanes?

Express Lanes increase roadway capacity and help manage congestion on Colorado highways by adding lanes that provide a new choice to drivers. Motorists can choose to ride the bus, carpool or pay a toll to use the new Express Lanes as an alternative to the free general purpose lanes.

Where will Express Lanes be?

There is an Express Lane on I-25 from downtown Denver to US 36. Express Lanes are here: US 36, from Table Mesa to I-25; I-25 from downtown Denver to US 36; and I-70 Mountain, from Empire to Idaho Springs. Express Lanes are currently being constructed on I-25 North from US 36 to 120th, with plans to extend to E-470; are planned for C-470; and with potential plans for Express Lanes on I-70 East, from I-25 to Chambers Road. 

What is ExpressToll’s role with the new lanes?

ExpressToll is the toll service provider that processes all tolls and handles customer service needs for all toll facilities in the state of Colorado. ExpressToll is the one-stop toll shop.

How Will Express Lanes Work?

Who can use Express Lanes?

Anyone can use Express Lanes, there are simply different ways to travel them. Users can ride the bus, carpool with one or two passengers (by no later than 2017, all Express Lanes will require two passengers along with the driver), or ride a motorcycle to use the lanes for free. Single occupant vehicles can choose to pay a toll to use the lanes.

Can carpoolers always travel free?

Yes, except for I-70 West. Express Lanes on I-70 West in the mountains will not include a “free” policy for HOV vehicles given that a majority of vehicles traveling in the corridor typically have more than one passenger. For all others highways, motorists will want a Switchable HOV Transponder for when they have one or two passengers (by no later than 2017, all Express Lanes will require two passengers along with the driver). The Switchable HOV Transponder is the only pass that allows you to choose the carpool option and use the lanes for free.

Will Express Lanes be open outside of rush hour?

Yes, Express Lanes will be open at all times. Buses, carpools with one or two passengers (by no later than 2017, all Express Lanes will require two passengers along with the driver), and motorcycles can use the lanes for free but must have an ExpressToll account and pass. Single occupant vehicles can choose to pay a toll to use the lanes at anytime.

How do I enter and exit the US 36 Express Lanes?

There will be designated entrance/exit areas between each interchange that will be clearly identified by overhead signing and pavement marking, or by a barrier. Travelers will enter the lanes where the pavement stripes are a white dash, or when there is a break in the barrier. At all other areas, the Express Lanes will be separated by a solid, double white line. Crossing double, solid white lines will be prohibited.

Will all vehicles have to pay a toll to use Express Lanes?

No. The following will no longer need a pass to use Express Lanes for free on US 36 and I-25:

  • Buses;
  • motorcycles; and
  • carpools with one or two passengers (Note that by no later than 2017, all Express Lanes will require two passengers along with the driver).

The Express Lanes on I-70 West in the mountains will not include a "free" policy for HOV vehicles. Single occupant vehicles can choose to pay a toll to use the lanes.

How are toll prices determined?

Express Lanes will use a dynamic pricing system in which tolls can change in price depending on the time of day – say, during peak morning or evening traffic. As traffic increases, the toll price goes up, helping to keep you moving on the Express Lanes.

Toll prices will vary based on each roadway.

How will the tolls on I-25 and US 36 be determined?

The CDOT Express Lanes are built upon as much of the existing infrastructure as practical and alongside existing free general purpose lanes. The Express Lane portion of I-25 is a good toll comparison where tolls range from $1-$2 off-peak and $4-$6 peak. The CDOT Express Lanes are “choice” facilities and will offer a toll based on time of day and congestion so that the customer can choose to pay a toll to drive faster or drive in the general purpose lanes for free.

How do I pay the tolls?

To use any of the Colorado Express Lanes, you will need an ExpressToll account and pass. An ExpressToll customer service representative can help you decide which pass is best for you, based on your particular needs. For example, the Switchable HOV Transponder is the only pass that allows you to choose the HOV option and use the lanes for free, but if you typically drive alone or with just one passenger in your car (after January 2017), you can use a sticker tag or standard pass.

Remember: If you choose not to use the pass, you will be billed through a License Plate Toll. A bill will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle and you will pay a higher toll rate based on how far you travel in the Express Lane.

You can set up an ExpressToll account online.

How will you know who is carpooling and who is paying a toll?

We can tell the difference between free use and toll-paying vehicles by reading the pass in the vehicle to determine which pass is in use.

An ExpressToll customer service representative can help you decide which pass is best for you, based on your particular needs. For example, the Switchable HOV Transponder is the only pass that allows you to choose the HOV option and use the lanes for free, but if you typically drive alone, you can use a sticker tag or standard pass. 

All motorists that use Express Lanes as an HOV will need to have a Switchable HOV Transponder. The Switchable HOV Transponder is the only pass that allows you to choose the carpool option and use the lanes for free. When traveling alone, simply switch your pass to the green “TOLL” option, and when carpooling switch to "HOV."

Law enforcement will help enforce Express Lanes rules, making sure that those who identified themselves as carpoolers actually have enough people to use the lanes for free.

How many people do I need in my vehicle to use Express Lanes for free?

Vehicles need one or two passengers to use the lanes for free (by no later than 2017, all Express Lanes will require two passengers along with the driver). Single occupant vehicles can choose to pay a toll to use the lanes, or use the free general purpose lanes.

Can motorcycles use Express Lanes?

Yes. Motorcycles can use Express Lanes for free and without a pass on the Express Lanes that offer HOV—such as I-25 and US 36. Express or toll lanes that do not allow HOV vehicles for free (E-470, Northwest Parkway, I-70 Mountain Express Lane) will still require a pre-paid toll balance and pass in order to avoid higher license plate toll charges. See Motorcycle Rules.

Can buses use Express Lanes?

Yes, buses can use Express Lanes. If you ride the bus, you won’t have to change anything about your current commute, but you’ll start noticing some new benefits. With Express Lanes, your bus ride will become faster and more reliable. For more information on routes and schedules, visit www.rtd-denver.com.

I drive a hybrid or electric vehicle. Can I use Express Lanes for free?

There is a program that allows a certain number of hybrids to use Express Lanes for free, but it has already reached its maximum amount of vehicles allowed. More information about the program can be found here.

Can trucks/commercial vehicles use Express Lanes?

Small and mid-sized trucks with two axles may use the Express Lanes as toll-paying customers or they may travel toll-free if they meet the HOV requirement and have a Switchable HOV Transponder pass. On US 36 and I-25, there is a surcharge of $25 for vehicles with more than three axles. However, on the I-70 West Express Lanes, a surcharge of $25 is planned for vehicles with more than two axles.

Can taxis use the Express Lanes?

Taxi drivers can use the Express Lanes anytime and will just need an Express Toll account and pass.

The Switchable HOV Transponder pass provides the flexibility to travel toll-free when you are traveling with either one or two passengers (by no later than 2017 all Express Lanes will require two passengers along with the driver). When you travel alone, you will be required to pay a toll.

I am from out of town – how can I use the Express Lanes?

Everyone who uses Express Lanes needs an Express Toll account and pass – make sure to ask your rental car company if your vehicle will come equipped with a pass.

If you accidentally take the Express Lanes without a pass you will be billed through a License Plate Toll. A bill will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle and you will pay a higher toll rate based on how far you travel in the Express Lane. If you are driving a rental car, the bill will be sent to the rental car company and you will likely incur charges based on that company’s policy.

Passes

Does everyone using the Express Lanes need an ExpressToll account and pass?

It is highly recommended for anyone using Colorado Express Lanes to get an ExpressToll account and pass. If you choose not to use the pass, you will be billed through a License Plate Toll. A bill will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle and you will pay a higher toll rate.

Do I have to get a Switchable HOV Transponder?

No, but having the Switchable HOV Transponder is the only pass that allows you to choose the carpool option and use the lanes for free. An ExpressToll customer service representative can help you decide which pass is best for you, based on your particular needs.

Where can I get a pass?

Visit www.expresstoll.com to set up an ExpressToll account and get a pass. An ExpressToll customer service representative can help you decide which pass is best for you, based on your particular needs and where you travel.

How much does a pass cost?

There is no charge for the ExpressToll sticker tag, which can be used on any Express Lanes. But drivers with an ExpressToll sticker tag are never considered an HOV, and will always be charged for using the Express Lanes.

If you plan to use the Express Lanes as a carpool or HOV on US 36, or the other Express Lanes corridors, then you will need a Switchable HOV Transponder. The Switchable HOV Transponder can also be used for non-carpooling drivers wanting to pay a toll.

The Switchable HOV Transponder costs $15—which covers the cost of the device and the cost of shipping to you when you order one. The $15 is deducted from the $35 required to set up an ExpressToll account, leaving a balance of $20 to be used on tolls. If you have the Switchable HOV Transponder, you will not need the ExpressToll sticker tag.

CDOT is working on new rules so that if you plan to only carpool, you will not need to pay for the transponder. Check back often for more information.

If you have questions on setting up or switching an existing account, please visit Expresstoll.com. 

What happens if I use any Express Lanes without a pass? 

If you choose not to use a pass, you will be billed through a License Plate Toll. A bill will be sent to the registered owner of the vehicle and you will pay a higher toll rate.

What happens if I have a Switchable HOV Transponder and forget to switch it from “HOV” mode when I travel alone?

You could be pulled over and issued a ticket for improper use of the Express Lanes. It’s important to make sure you select the correct travel option before you enter an Express Lane.

What happens if I have a Switchable HOV Transponder, meet the HOV requirements and forget to change to the “HOV” travel mode? Will I be charged a toll?

Yes, you will be charged a toll if your pass is set to “TOLL” mode. It’s important to make sure you select the correct travel option before you enter an Express Lane.

Can I use my pass on any of Colorado’s Express Lanes?

Yes, an Express Toll pass can be used on all of Colorado’s Express Lanes.

What if I have multiple vehicles?

An ExpressToll account can have multiple vehicles on the account; however, each vehicle must have its own pass.

Motorcycle Rules

New Procedures for Motorcycles and Carpoolers

The House Transportation and Energy Committee voted no on Senate Bill 16-123 (SB 123) on April 21. The discussion, however, prompted new changes in the pass procedures for HOV Express Lanes, which include the following:

  • Motorcycles will no longer be required to have a pass to use CDOT’s High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Express Lanes to for free.*

  • The High Performance Transportation Enterprise (HPTE) and CDOT will offer the Switchable HOV Transponder pass for free to drivers who are planning to carpool only in CDOT’s HOV Express Lanes.**

  • Drivers who have already purchased a Switchable HOV Transponder and have only used it in carpool mode will be given a refund.**

CDOT and HPTE are working on a timeline for the implementation of these changes. More information coming soon!

*Express or Toll lanes that do not allow HOV vehicles for free (E-470, Northwest Parkway, I-70 Mountain Express Lane) will still require a payment and/or a pass in order to avoid higher license plate charges.

**If drivers choose this option and use the transponder in “toll” mode on HOV Express Lanes or on E-470, Northwest Parkway or the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, a credit card on file will be charged for the cost of the transponder and to open an account.

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