Florida Guide > Travelling
The HOV Lane on the I-95 in Miami
On our regular trips to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, either prior, or following a visit to our beautiful villa in Orlando, we have normally made use of the ‘HOV’ (High Occupancy Vehicle – 2 or more people) lane on the Interstate 95, and have been pleased to whiz past all the gridlocked traffic. This part of the Interstate 95 can be very busy, particularly at peak times, and the HOV lane enabled us to speedily make our way to Fort Lauderdale, or out of the airport. Whilst it was normally meant for cars with 2 or more persons, it could be used by anyone at off-peak times.
However, on a recent trip we noticed that although a small part of the HOV lane still remains just south of Fort Lauderdale, it has now been changed to the I-95 Express lane, and is no longer available unless you have a SunPass transponder to enable you to automatically pay the tolls. The first indications you see of any changes are the huge signs which tell you that tolls are payable and that non-payment of tolls is a fineable offence. These warnings are very visible and it is sensible to move over to the right hand lanes when they appear. Entry points to the new express lane are always to the left hand side, and there are now moveable barriers which ensure that you do not stray into the lane by mistake.
Tolls can vary according to the volume of traffic using the Express lane, and can be as low as 25c in off-peak times to as high as $3. 50 in peak times, although a maximum of $7 is possible in unusual circumstances. Monitors on the roadway give continuous information about how much traffic is using these lanes, and how fast they are going, as well as how close together the cars are. This information is then used to determine whether the tolls are lowered or raised, in order to maintain the best possible road conditions within these lanes. This is called ‘Dynamic Tolling’ and it has worked with great success in a similar project in San Diego County, on the Interstate-15.
The Express lane begins close to Miami International, when travelling north, and so there is no way to enter it when leaving the airport unless you have a transponder. These may be available on your hire car – always check with the car hire agent to see if your car has one. You can also buy them at Publix or Walgreens, but unless you are aiming to go through a lot of Sunpass tolls it would not be worth it for short stays in Florida. The Express lane is aimed at those travelling longer distances so you cannot enter and exit it except at certain points. For example, when travelling north there is a 7 mile stretch which has no exits from 6A until Golden Glades Interchange.
Take care not to enter this express lane unless you have a transponder as you could end up with a fine.
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Page added on: 11 January 2011
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