HOT Lanes on the Katy and Northwest Freeways
The High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in Houston have been highly successful – so successful that two of them the Katy and Northwest Freeways routinely reach capacity during the morning peak travel time. Houston METRO and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are currently managing that high level of demand through a value pricing project named “QuickRide”. QuickRide allows two-person carpools (HOV2) to use the HOV lane for $2 per trip during peak hours, while larger carpools (HOV3+) and buses use the HOV lane for free. These High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes are the first in Texas and among the first in the United States.
This method of managing demand has worked well since its implementation in 1998, with steady increases in usage and enrollment. However, with reconstruction of the Katy Freeway corridor underway, the Katy HOV lane could be an even more valuable asset in managing traffic, both peak and off-peak. Additionally, more HOV lanes in the Houston area are nearing capacity during peak periods. Therefore, additional efforts are underway to increase the effectiveness of the QuickRide project in utilizing the HOT lanes. This could include increasing the hours of QuickRide operation, dynamic pricing of the HOT lane based on congestion, stepped pricing on the lanes based on time of day, and even allowing single occupant vehicles on the lane for a higher toll than HOVs.
Katy and Northwest Freeway HOV lanes
Katy HOV Lane
- The Katy Freeway is very congested, serving more than 212,000 vehicles per day.
- Its HOV lane is the first permanent HOV lane in Texas, operating since 1984.
- The 13-mile HOV lane is located in the median of Interstate 10 (West from Loop 610) and has direct connectors to Park and Ride lots.
- The Katy HOV lane serves more than 24,000 person-trips per day.
- The QuickRide program, implemented in 1998, allows HOV2 vehicles peak hour access for a $2 fee.
- The Katy Freeway is undergoing a massive multi-year reconstruction project to increase the number of existing lanes and expand the HOV lane to four managed lanes.
Goals: To use the HOV lane to help manage congestion during the multi-year construction and prepare the public for the transition to toll-managed lanes.
Northwest HOV Lane
- The Northwest Freeway serves more than 235,000 vehicles per day.
- Its 15-mile HOV lane is located in the median of US 290 (Northwest from Loop 610) with direct connectors to Park and Ride lots.
- Its HOV lane serves more than 18,000 person-trips per day.
- The QuickRide program was implemented in 1999 and allows HOV2 vehicles peak hour access for a $2 fee.
Goals: To achieve maximum effectiveness of the HOV lane by improving utilization and refining HOV lane management to serve as a model for the expansion of the QuickRide program to other HOV lanes in Houston as traffic congestion warrants.