High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) & Express Lanes
HOV lanes are traffic lanes set aside for vehicles with a minimum number of occupants. HOV lanes shorten commute times for carpoolers, but they also shorten commute times for everyone else on the road, by reducing the volume of traffic. HOV restrictions and even the direction of travel in these lanes may change depending on the day and time. Some HOV lanes are open to hybrid vehicles and/or motorcycles that don't carry the minimum number of riders. For the most up-to-date information about rules and hours for each system, follow the links provided under "HOV Lanes in Virginia" and "HOV Lanes in Maryland," below.
Express lanes are toll-free for carpoolers, but also allow vehicles that don't meet the occupancy requirement, charging a toll.
HOV and Express Lanes in Virginia
For the most current and complete information about HOV lanes in Virginia, see the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) HOV page.
HOV-HOT Projects in Development
I-66 Outside the Beltway: This project would include toll lanes on I-66, in each direction from the Capital Beltway to Gainesville, Virginia. Vehicles meeting HOV restrictions would be exempt from the toll. More information from Transform 66 Outside the Beltway.
I-66 Express Lanes Inside the Beltway HOV-2
All lanes of I-66 inside the Beltway (I-495) are Express Lanes during morning or evening rush hour. All eastbound lanes (toward Washington) are Express Lanes from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. All westbound lanes are Express Lanes from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. At other times, all lanes are open to all drivers, without a toll or HOV restrictions. While restrictions are in effect, vehicles with at least two occupants and an E-ZPass Flex may use the Express Lanes for free. Solo drivers are charged a variable toll for using the lanes, and must have an E-ZPass or E-ZPass flex transponder. Motorcycles travel toll-free, with or without E-ZPass.
I-66 Outside the Beltway HOV-2
Outside the Beltway, there are multiple general-purpose lanes and one HOV lane, marked with diamonds, in each direction. HOV lanes are restricted to vehicles with two or more passengers eastbound (toward Washington, D.C.) from 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and westbound from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Dulles Toll Road HOV-2
From Rt. 28 to the Beltway (I-495) The Dulles Toll Road has one lane in each direction restricted to vehicles with two or more people (HOV-2) on weekdays, eastbound (toward D.C.) from 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., and westbound from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The lanes are marked with diamonds. On weekends and at other times, the lanes are open to all traffic. Motorcycles and vehicles with Clean Fuel license plates are exempt from the HOV restriction.
I-495 and I-95 Express Lanes
I-95 and I-495 have four general-purpose lanes and two Express lanes in each direction. The Express lanes operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Tolling is always in effect. All drivers need an E-ZPass to use the Express lanes, and carpools with three or more people (HOV-3) need an E-ZPass Flex to use the lanes for free. Motorcycles also use the lanes for free, with or without E-ZPass.
I-395 Express Lanes
The I-95 Express lanes end, and the I-395 Express Lanes begin, on I-395 just north of Edsall Road. An E-ZPass or E-ZPass Flex is required to use the lanes. With three or more people in the car, and E-ZPass Flex set to HOV mode, travel in the lanes is free. Motorcycles also use the lanes for free, with or without E-ZPass. HOV restrictions are in effect on weekdays, northbound in the morning and southbound in the afternoon. Approximate schedule.
HOV Lanes in Maryland
For the most current and complete information about HOV lanes in Maryland, see the Maryland State Highway Administration HOV page.
I-270 has multiple general-purpose lanes and one HOV lane in each direction from the the Beltway (I-495) through Montgomery County, MD. The southbound HOV lane extends from I-370 to I-495 (Capital Beltway). The northbound HOV lane extends from I-495 to MD 121 (Clarksburg). The HOV lanes are marked with painted diamonds. HOV restrictions are in effect weekdays from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. southbound (toward Washington, D.C.) and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. northbound. The Express Lanes are open to all traffic on weekends and at other times.
Route 50 HOV-2
There are multiple general-purpose lanes and one HOV lane in each direction from Route 301 to the Beltway (I-495). The lanes are restricted to HOV-2 traffic at all times.