HOV/HOT Express Lanes

HOV stands for High Occupancy Vehicle. HOT stands for High Occupancy Toll. Both refer to a barrier-separated lane in the middle of I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290. The lane runs in one direction, but it’s reversible depending on time of day. In the mornings, vehicles travel toward downtown Houston. In the afternoons, they travel away from downtown. Lane usage, and whether or not a toll is required, depends on the freeway you’re using, time of day and total number of people in your vehicle.

Watch Video

METRO Park & Ride bus traveling in HOV lane on Interstate 45 South with gridlock traffic in both directions.

Overview

HOV/HOT express lanes on I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290 are in operation seven days a week and closed on holidays. Weekend operations follow the same schedule, occupancy requirements and tolls as weekdays. To find out how and when you can use the lanes during the day, click or tap on the tab that represents the freeway you'll be riding.


Interstate 45

I-45

Features a barrier-separated HOV/HOT lane on the North Freeway and the Gulf Freeway.

Where are the lanes?

I-45 (North Freeway)

North of downtown - lanes run between downtown Houston and just south of Cypresswood Drive in Spring, Texas.


I-45 (Gulf Freeway)

South of downtown - lanes run between downtown Houston and just south of Bay Area Boulevard in Webster, Texas.

When are the lanes open?

I-45 (North Freeway)

  • Inbound (south) toward downtown Houston:
     Mon-Sun, 5-11 a.m.
  • Outbound (north) toward Spring:
     Mon-Sun, 1-8 p.m.


I-45 (Gulf Freeway)

  • Inbound (north) toward downtown Houston:
     Mon-Sun, 5-11 a.m.
  • Outbound (south) toward Webster:
     Mon-Sun, 1-8 p.m.
Who can use the lanes?

Inbound (weekday mornings)

  • 6:30-8 a.m.:
     Vehicles with at least two people
     Motorcycles
  • All other times:
     Open to all

  • Outbound (weekday afternoons)

    • 5-6 p.m. (Gulf Freeway) and 4:30-6 p.m. (North Freeway):
       Vehicles with at least two people
       Motorcycles
    • All other times:
       Open to all
I-69 / Hwy. 59

I-69 / Hwy. 59

Features a barrier-separated HOV/HOT lane on the Eastex Freeway and the Southwest Freeway.

Where are the lanes?

I-69 / Hwy. 59 (Eastex Freeway)

North of downtown - lanes run between downtown Houston and Hamblen Road in Humble, Texas.


I-69 / Hwy. 59 (Southwest Freeway)

South of downtown - lanes run between downtown Houston and West Airport Boulevard near Sugar Land, Texas.

When are the lanes open?

I-69 / Hwy. 59 (Eastex Freeway)

  • Inbound (south) toward downtown Houston:
     Mon-Sun, 5-11 a.m.
  • Outbound (north) toward Humble:
     Mon-Sun, 1-8 p.m.


I-69 / Hwy. 59 (Southwest Freeway)

  • Inbound (north) toward downtown Houston:
     Mon-Sun, 5-11 a.m.
  • Outbound (south) toward Sugar Land:
     Mon-Sun, 1-8 p.m.
Who can use the lanes?

Inbound (weekday mornings)

  • 6:30-8 a.m.:
     Vehicles with at least two people
     Motorcycles
  • All other times:
     Open to all


Outbound (weekday afternoons)

  • 4:30-6 p.m.:
     Vehicles with at least two people
     Motorcycles
  • All other times:
     Open to all
Highway 290

Hwy. 290

Features a barrier-separated HOV/HOT lane on the Northwest Freeway.

Where are the lanes?

Hwy. 290 (Northwest Freeway)

Lanes run between I-10 / I-610 and U.S. 290 and Mason Road in Cypress, Texas.

When are the lanes open?

Inbound (east) toward I-10 / I-610

  • Mon-Sun, 5-11 a.m.


Outbound (west) toward Highway 99

  • Mon-Sun, 1-8 p.m.
Who can use the lanes?

Inbound (weekday mornings)

  • 6:30-8 a.m.:
     Vehicles with at least three people
     Motorcycles
  • All other times:
     Open to all


Outbound (weekday afternoons)

  • 4:30-6 p.m.:
     Vehicles with at least two people
     Motorcycles
  • All other times:
     Open to all

I-10 (Katy Freeway)

Features “managed lanes” west of Interstate 610 managed by HCTRA and an HOV ramp (“Katy-CBD”) near downtown Houston operated by METRO.

Where are the lanes?

Managed Lanes

Two barrier-separated lanes running in each direction between I-610 and Highway 6.


Katy-CBD HOV Ramp

Elevated ramp running from just east of Studemont Street to downtown Houston.

When are the lanes open?

Managed Lanes

  •  24 hours a day, 365 days a year
  •  HOV hours are weekdays 5-11 a.m. and 2-8 p.m., both eastbound and westbound.


Katy-CBD HOV Ramp

  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – in both directions
Who can use the lanes?

Managed Lanes

  • Open to all


Katy-CBD HOV Ramp

  • Buses
  • Motorcycles
  • Vanpools
  • Carpools

All vehicles must carry at least two passengers to use the ramp. There's no toll.

Tolls

I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290: single occupant vehicles are required to have a valid toll tag, use the TOLL ONLY lane and pay a toll during hours when the express lanes are open to single occupants. Motorcycles always ride free.

I-10: single occupant vehicles are required to have a valid toll tag and pay a toll during HOV hours (weekdays, 5-11 a.m. and 2-8 p.m.) and all vehicles must pay a toll outside of HOV hours.

Click or tap on the freeway you’ll be riding and we’ll show you the toll amounts, by hour.

HourToll
5:00 a.m.$2.50
6:00 a.m.$7.00 (until 6:30 a.m.)
6:30-8 a.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
8:00 a.m.$5.00
9:00 a.m.$2.50
10:00 a.m.$1.00
1:00 p.m.$1.00
2:00 p.m.$1.00
3:00 p.m.$2.50
4:00 p.m.$5.00 (until 4:30 p.m.)
4:30-6 p.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
6:00 p.m.$5.00
7:00 p.m.$2.50

HourToll
5:00 a.m.$2.25
6:00 a.m.$6.50 (until 6:30 a.m.)
6:30-8 a.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
8:00 a.m.$4.50
9:00 a.m.$2.25
10:00 a.m.$1.00
1:00 p.m.$1.00
2:00 p.m.$1.00
3:00 p.m.$2.25
4:00 p.m.$4.50
5:00 p.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
6:00 p.m.$4.50
7:00 p.m.$2.25

HourToll
5:00 a.m.$1.00
6:00 a.m.$4.50 (until 6:30 a.m.)
6:30-8 a.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
8:00 a.m.$2.25
9:00 a.m.$1.00
10:00 a.m.$1.00
1:00 p.m.$1.00
2:00 p.m.$1.00
3:00 p.m.$2.25
4:00 p.m.$2.25
5:00 p.m.$4.50
6:00 p.m.$2.25
7:00 p.m.$1.00

HourToll
5:00 a.m.$1.00
6:00 a.m.$6.50 (until 6:30 a.m.)
6:30-8 a.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
8:00 a.m.$4.50
9:00 a.m.$2.25
10:00 a.m.$1.00
1:00 p.m.$1.00
2:00 p.m.$1.00
3:00 p.m.$2.25
4:00 p.m.$4.50 (until 4:30 p.m.)
4:30-6 p.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
6:00 p.m.$4.50
7:00 p.m.$1.00

HourToll
5:00 a.m.$2.50
6:00 a.m.$7.00 (until 6:30 a.m.)
6:30-8 a.m.Only open to vehicles with at least three people (no toll)
8:00 a.m.$5.00
9:00 a.m.$2.50
10:00 a.m.$1.00
1:00 p.m.$1.00
2:00 p.m.$1.00
3:00 p.m.$2.50
4:00 p.m.$5.00 (until 4:30 p.m.)
4:30-6 p.m.Only open to vehicles with at least two people (no toll)
6:00 p.m.$5.00
7:00 p.m.$2.50

HourEldridge Plaza TollWilcrest and Wirt Toll
6:00 a.m.$2.10$1.20
7:00 a.m.$3.20$1.90
8:00 a.m.$2.60$1.70
9:00 a.m.$1.50$1.00
All other hours$0.40$0.30


* The managed lanes between Highway 6 and I-610 are open to all vehicles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These lanes are managed by the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

HourEldridge Plaza TollWilcrest and Wirt Toll
3:00 p.m.$2.10$1.20
4:00 p.m.$3.20$1.90
5:00 p.m.$3.20$1.90
6:00 p.m.$2.10$1.20
All other hours$0.40$0.30


* The managed lanes between I-610 and Highway 6 are open to all vehicles 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. These lanes are managed by the Harris County Toll Road Authority.

How to Ride

The map below is best viewed on a desktop or laptop computer. All express lane corridors are included. Entrances are indicated by purple map markers. Exits are indicated by bright pink map markers. Click or tap on any marker for more details, including how and where to access that entrance or exit. Below the map, you'll find videos taking you on a virtual drive of the METRO-operated express lane corridors.


Map of Express Lane Entrances and Exits

Click or tap the symbol to the left of "Express Lanes" to check or uncheck corridors you wish to view. The plus and minus symbols in the lower left allow you to zoom in or out. The square icon in the upper right allows you to open a larger version of the map in a new window.

Take a virtual drive along METRO’s HOV/HOT express lane corridors to see where the entrances and exits are for each:


Interstate 45 Express Lane sign

I-45

North Freeway and Gulf Freeway

US Highway 59 Express Lane sign

Hwy. 59

Eastex Freeway and Southwest Freeway

US Highway 290 Express Lane sign

Hwy. 290

Northwest Freeway

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Common Questions

General

HOV stands for High Occupancy Vehicle. An HOV lane is a barrier-separated lane that runs down the middle of I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290. The lane runs in one direction, but it’s reversible depending on the time of day. In the mornings, vehicles travel in the direction of downtown Houston. In the afternoons, vehicles travel away from downtown Houston.

On I-10, there are "managed lanes" operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority. These are four barrier-separated express lanes with two lanes running in each direction between I-610 and Hwy. 6.

HOT stands for High Occupancy Toll. It’s the HOV lane on either I-45, Hwy. 59 or Hwy. 290, but with a toll. The toll is paid by single occupant vehicles. And the lane is only open to those single occupant vehicles outside of peak travel times.

I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290 (operated by METRO):

  • Each has a single HOV/HOT lane that operates daily.

I-10:

  • Has “managed lanes” (two in each direction) that are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Those lanes are operated by the Harris County Toll Road Authority with HOV hours during weekday mornings and afternoons. 
  • Has the Katy-CBD HOV ramp between Studemont Street and downtown Houston (one lane in each direction) open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. That ramp is operated by METRO.

Trip Planning

I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290 (operated by METRO):

  • Daily from 5-11 a.m. inbound (towards downtown) and 1-8 p.m. outbound (away from downtown)

I-10 (operated by Harris County Toll Road Authority):

  • The managed lanes are open at all times, with HOV hours on weekdays from 5-11 a.m. and 2-8 p.m. in both directions.
  • The Katy-CBD HOV ramp near downtown is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – in both directions.

I-10 Managed Lanes: between I-610 and Highway 6

I-45 (North Freeway): between downtown and just south of Cypresswood Drive.

I-45 (Gulf Freeway): between downtown and Webster, Texas

Hwy. 59 (Eastex Freeway): between downtown and Humble, Texas

Hwy. 59 (Southwest Freeway): between downtown and just north of Stafford, Texas

Hwy. 290 (Northwest Freeway): between I-10/I-610 and Cypress, Texas

I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290: 

  • Vehicles with a minimum of two (sometimes three) people, and motorcycles may use the lane any time they’re open. A baby or infant is considered an occupant for meeting the HOV lane occupancy requirement.
  • Single occupant vehicles may use the lane outside of peak travel times which are generally from about 6:30-8:00 a.m. and 4:30-6:00 p.m.

I-10:

  • “Managed lanes” are open to all vehicles. Motorcycles and vehicles with a minimum of two people can use the lanes during HOV hours without paying a toll. Single occupancy vehicles who ride during those hours are required to pay a toll. And all vehicles are required to pay a toll outside of HOV hours.
  • Katy-CBD HOV ramp into downtown is only open to buses, motorcycles, vanpools and carpools, with no toll. Single occupant vehicles aren't allowed to use this ramp.

Tolls

I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290 (operated by METRO):

  • It’s free to use the lanes during operating hours as long as there are two, or sometimes three, people in the vehicle.
  • Single occupancy vehicles are always required to pay a toll (using an authorized toll tag) when using the lanes.
  • The toll amount varies by freeway, corridor and hour of the day.
  • Toll rates for specific corridors are prominently displayed ahead of each lane entrance.
  • Toll rates can also be found on the HOV/HOT Express Lanes page
  • Tolls may change from one hour to the next. If this happens during your trip, you're charged the toll listed when you first entered the express lane.

I-10 managed lanes (operated by Harris County Toll Road Authority):

  • Toll rates vary depending on the direction and time of day you're traveling.
  • Toll rates are prominently displayed on the freeway and can also be found on the HOV/HOT Express Lanes page

I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290 (operated by METRO):

You can use these toll tags in the HOT express lanes:

  • Harris County EZ TAG
  • TxTAG
  • NTTA (North Texas Tollway Authority)
  • Kansas Transit Authority (KTA)
  • Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA)
  • Dallas North Tollway (DNT)
  • Bancpass

No other payment method is accepted.

For I-10 and other Harris County operated toll road lanes designated with an EZ TAG-ONLY sign, a TxTag or NTTA TollTag is also accepted, provided your account is in good standing and the vehicle's license plate is registered with your tag.

I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290 (operated by METRO):

The discounted toll amount is subject to change, and certain restrictions apply.

I-10 (operated by Harris County Toll Road Authority):

Vehicles must display a qualifying license plate in order to be eligible for the HCTRA Veteran Discount Tolling Program.

Using the Lanes

A map and videos showing specific entry and exit points along the I-45, Hwy. 59 and Hwy. 290 corridors can be found on the HOV / HOT Express Lanes page.

  • Trailer towing is prohibited
  • No trucks with more than two axles or a gross weight capacity of one ton or greater
  • No bicycles – but motorcycles are permitted
  • No pedestrians

There’s no minimum speed, but as with any highway driving, you should maintain enough speed to avoid slowing down the flow of traffic. The speed limit in the HOV/HOT lanes is the same as the freeway it runs alongside.

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