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Q: How do Express Toll Lanes differ from traditional toll roads?

A: Express Toll Lanes differ from traditional toll roads in a number of important ways.

With Express Toll Lanes:

  • General-purpose (non-tolled) lanes and toll lanes exist together in the same corridor, offering motorists the choice of using the Express Toll Lanes when time is most valuable and using the general-purpose (non-tolled) lanes at other times.
  • Fees are collected electronically at highway speeds and without the need for tollbooths.
  • Tolls can vary between rush hours and non-rush hours based on the levels of demand and congestion. On traditional toll roads, toll rates generally are fixed and do not vary by time of day or level of congestion.


      Mom placing a seatbelt on her child

Q: Who will use the Express Toll Lanes?

A: All kinds of motorists will choose to use the toll lanes - some as regular users and others only when they most need the time savings or reliability. Research from elsewhere in the country shows that drivers of all income levels opt to use Express Toll Lanes on occasions when their need for time savings outweighs the cost of paying a toll.

Q: How much will it cost to use Express Toll Lanes?
A: Toll rates on the Express Toll Lanes would vary based on supply and demand and be adjusted to maintain optimal traffic flow. As an example, tolls to use San Diego's eight-mile FasTrak express lanes generally vary from $1.00 to $4.00 (or 12.5 cents to 50 cents per mile) on a typical day. Study is needed to estimate what the required toll rates would be for individual Express Toll Lanes in Maryland.

Q: Where will the revenue go?
A: Revenue from the Express Toll Lanes primarily will be used to help pay off bonds issued to finance construction, as well as for maintenance and operations of the new lanes, including needed enforcement.
Q: Why not just build new highways and pay for them through the Transportation Trust Fund?
A: Maryland's Transportation Trust Fund primarily comprises revenue from the gas tax and motor vehicle registration and titling fees. Some highway expansion projects are so big and expensive that it would take decades to accumulate enough money in the Transportation Trust Fund to pay for them. Express Toll Lanes would allow an expansion project to be built more quickly, free up traditional funding for other transportation needs, and help manage the use of the new lanes to maintain the choice of a relatively congestion-free route.

Q: Will the Express Toll Lane option discourage ridesharing and transit use?
A: No. Drivers still will have a financial incentive to carpool in the Express Toll Lanes, reducing the cost of using the lanes by 1/2 or 1/3 for two- and three-person carpools, for instance. Also, Express Toll Lanes have the potential to improve transit travel times by ensuring access to relatively free-flowing travel lanes for commuter bus service, especially during rush hour.

Commuter getting onto a bus at a station  


Q: Will the electronic equipment invade people's privacy?
A: No. Toll collection will be similar to Maryland's E-ZPass(SM) system. Transponders will be read by electronic readers and tolls will be debited from the driver's account. No additional information will be collected from the vehicles. Moreover, use of the lanes will be completely voluntary with drivers always having the choice between the Express Toll Lanes and the non-tolled general-purpose lanes.
Q: How does Maryland's Express Toll Lanes Initiative differ from the HOT lanes approach being pursued in Virginia?
A: HOT is an acronym for High Occupancy/Toll. On HOT lanes, a solo driver can pay a fee to access High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes normally reserved for transit buses and carpools. HOVs generally are allowed to use HOT lanes at a discount or free of charge. HOT lanes are being pursued in Virginia for portions of the Capital Beltway and I-95.

The HOT lanes approach is not under consideration in Maryland. Primarily, this is because of limitations on the ability to enforce lane restrictions and occupancy requirements. The highways for which Express Toll Lanes are being considered generally cannot support physically separated lanes and enforcement of access restrictions on those lanes.

Q: Will the Express Toll Lanes affect currently existing HOV lanes? 
A: It is possible. The role and potential parallel use of HOV and Express Toll Lanes will vary by project and be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

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