Programs

Express Lanes FAQ

New Procedures for Motorcycles and Carpoolers

Motorcycles are no longer required to have a pass to use CDOT's High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Express Lanes for free.*

Switchable HOV Transponder passes are now free for drivers who are planning to carpool only in CDOT's HOV Express Lanes.**

*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

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.

Express Lanes are open on:

  • US 36;
  • I-25 from downtown Denver to 120th Avenue; and
  • the I-70 Mountain Corridor, from Empire to Idaho Springs.

Express Lanes are currently being constructed on:

  • C-470; and
  • I-25 North from 120th to the Northwest Parkway/E-470

Express Lanes are planned on:

  • North I-25, from Johnstown to Fort Collins; and
  • I-70 East, from I-25 to Chambers Road.

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?

Anyone can use Express Lanes, and there are simply different ways to travel them. Users can ride the bus, carpool with one or two passengers (all Express Lanes require two passengers along with the driver to carpool for free), or ride a motorcycle to use the lanes for free. Drivers can also choose to pay a toll to use the lanes.

Yes, except for the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, which 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, motorists will want a Switchable HOV Transponder for when they have two or more passengers. The Switchable HOV Transponder is the only pass that allows you to choose the carpool option and use the lanes for free.

With the exception of the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, all Express Lanes will be open at all times. Buses, carpools with at least two passengers, and motorcycles can use the lanes for free, but they must have an ExpressToll account and pass. Drivers can also choose to pay a toll to use the lanes at anytime.

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.

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 at least two passengers.

The I-70 Mountain Express Lane will not include a "free" policy for HOV carpool vehicles. Drivers can also choose to pay a toll to use the lanes.

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.

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 for a reliable travel time, or drive in the general purpose lanes for free.

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 the toll rate based on how far you travel in the Express Lane.

You can set up an ExpressToll account online.

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.

Vehicles need at least two passengers to use the lanes for free. Drivers can choose to pay a toll to use the lanes, or use the free general purpose 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.

With the exception of the I-70 Mountain Express Lane, 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.

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. Read more about the program.

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, trucks and commercial vehicles are not allowed on the I-70 Mountain Express Lane.

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 at least two passengers. When you travel alone, you will be required to pay a toll.

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

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 the toll rate, plus charges to mail you the bill.

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.

Visit The ExpressToll website 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.

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.

Switchable HOV Transponder passes are now free for drivers who are planning to carpool only in CDOT's HOV Express Lanes.

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

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.

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.

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.

Yes—an Express Toll pass can be used on all of Colorado's Express Lanes. It can also be used on the Northwest Parkway and E-470.

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

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