HOT lanes opening up on Gulf Freeway

February 13, 2012 4:38:12 PM PST
If your commute to and from work takes you along the Gulf Freeway, you may be in for a faster ride, thanks to METRO's new 'HOT' lane.

You don't have to go far down the Gulf Freeway to find a driver who hates the traffic.

"I just work a few blocks, I just have to get on the freeway for four exits," said driver Caleb Avila. "It takes me 15 minutes. It's bad."

But as of today there's a new option on the Gulf Freeway to help drivers bypass the congestion.

METRO spokesperson Jerome Gray explained, "What we're doing is basically taking our 83-mile HOV network and transforming them into HOT lanes."

The 'HOT" in HOT lane stands for "high occupancy toll." But don't let the "high occupancy" fool you. Drivers alone in their cars are now able to use the HOV lanes during rush hour for a price, anywhere from a $1 to $4.50. It's still free if you have two or more people in the car.

Gray said, "We think this is an opportunity to alleviate some of that congestion on the main lanes. And also, for those who are willing to pay, speed up their commutes."

That news is met with relief from people who travel the Gulf Freeway a lot. Veronica DeLeon takes I-45 on her drive to San Jacinto College at 4pm.

She said, "It's not going to take me a long time to get to school if I use it. I'm not going to be stuck in traffic or anything."

It's not a fix, but drivers say every little bit helps.

"It would take some of the traffic off the freeway if a few people would get on there," said driver Mike Cupp.

Drivers will use the EZ tag or METRO toll tag to use the HOT lanes. There are a few other tags that will work too. And there's a schedule of how much the HOT lanes cost, depending on the time of day.

To learn more about the HOT lanes, visit METRO's website.