Have questions about the Express Lanes? We’ve got you covered. Click between the sections below to see what other riders are asking and the answers to them.
What are the Express Lanes?
The Express Lanes offer a smoother and more predictable trip for drivers in Northern Virginia. Drivers use the Express Lanes to bypass congestion on the Beltway and 95 and 395 corridors. And because we’re all about keeping things moving, our customers pay for tolls electronically using an E-ZPass®. No need for cash, means no more toll booth backups.
The 495 Express Lanes run 14 miles from Springfield to McLean., The 95 Express Lanes run 31 miles from Stafford to Fairfax and the 395 Express Lanes are an 8-mile extension of these Lanes, taking drivers right up to the D.C. line.
What does the partnership between the Virginia Department of Transportation and Transurban mean for the Express Lanes?
Transurban has a partnership in place with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to manage and operate the 495, 95 and 395 Express Lanes. We’re in it for the long haul. Our partnership will run until 2087 for these Lanes. Head on over to the Transurban website to learn more.
When can I use the Express Lanes?
The Express Lanes operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What’s the speed limit on the Express Lanes?
How do you maintain free-flowing conditions on the Express Lanes?
No one likes being stuck in a sea of brake lights, so the Express Lanes use dynamic pricing to keep customers moving. With dynamic pricing, you’ll be traveling at least 45 mph on the 495 Express Lanes and 55 mph on the 95 and 395 Express Lanes, 99% of the time.
Our customer control center also has eyes on the road around the clock. If our cameras spot any incidents on the Lanes, we’ll have a response crew arrive with help in 10 minutes or less.
Where can I see the rules of the road for the Express Lanes?
What’s the lane reversal schedule for the 95 and 395 Express Lanes?
The 95 and 395 Express Lanes follow an approximate reversal schedule, which you can learn more about here. A simple way to remember which direction our reversible Lanes are heading? Think about the weekday morning and evening commutes. Our Lanes point north in the morning to help many of our customers heading into D.C. and then point south in the evening for their return trip.
What’s traveling like where the 95 Express Lanes and the 395 Express Lanes meet?
The 95 and 395 Express Lanes are now part of one continuous system. That means that all drivers, whether or not they are HOV-3 can continue on the 395 Express Lanes. The Lanes are tolled 24/7 and all drivers (except motorcyclists) need an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex to use them.
How do I read the digital signs above the 95 and 395 Express Lanes?
These signs help manage traffic if something is wrong on the road ahead. If there is a green arrow above your lane, you’re good to go. A red X above your lane means you should change lanes. Drive the speed posted on the digital speed limit sign if it’s different from the regular speed of 65. The speed limit may be lower to help get customers safety around an accident down the road.
Can I use the Seminary Road southbound ramp from the 395 Express Lanes?
The Seminary Road ramp facing south will remain HOV-only. That means only HOV vehicles, hybrids and motorcycles can use that ramp. The northbound ramp is open to all customers.
Can all travelers access the 95 and 395 Express Lanes outside rush hour and on weekends?
I exited the 395 Express Lanes at Eads St. to drop off slugs at the Pentagon/Pentagon City, can I get back on the 395 Express Lanes and continue to D.C. for free?
Yes, you can. If you exit the northbound 395 Express Lanes at Eads Street to drop off slugs at the Pentagon or Pentagon City, you can get back on the Lanes at Eads Street and go to D.C. for free, even if it’s just you in the car. But, you have to get right back on the Lanes and remember to put your Flex in toll mode so a Virginia State Police trooper doesn’t stop you. Even though your Flex will be in toll mode, we’ll know you carpooled to Eads Street. You won’t be charged to finish your trip to the city.
How has the Eads Street interchange changed?
With the construction of the 395 Express Lanes, the northbound exit ramp around the Eads Street interchange has been expanded to two ramps. The ramp to the left exits to the Pentagon, while the right ramp takes you to Pentagon City.
Can I still get on the Lanes just before the 14th Street Bridge?
Yes, you sure can but drivers traveling north from Eads Street or the regular lanes near Pentagon City to the 395 Express Lanes need an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass Flex®.
Can carpools and vanpools travel the Express Lanes for free at all times?
Carpools and vanpools can travel toll-free on the Express Lanes at all times as long as they fit within our free travel guidelines. If you have a headcount of 3 or more people in your carpool or vanpool, just make sure to switch your E-ZPass® Flex to HOV mode to travel for free.
I drive a hybrid or a vehicle with clean fuel plates. Why can’t I use the Express Lanes for free?
Based on Virginia law, customers can’t travel toll-free solely because they drive a hybrid car. As HOT lanes, we run differently from HOV Lanes, so we follow a different statute.
Want to know more about the HOT statute? Head here and read sections 33.1-56.5 to learn more.
Can motorcycles use the Express Lanes?
As a motorcycle rider, enjoy toll-free travel on the Express Lanes. You don’t need an E-ZPass® either. But if you already have an E-ZPass® on your motorcycle, feel free to leave it in place when you travel on the Express Lanes knowing you won’t be charged.
What is slugging?
Slugging is a way to carpool that's been around the D.C. area for decades. At least 2 riders, or slugs, meets drivers in Park and Ride lots and jump in their cars for the morning commute. In the evening, slug lines pop up in spots around the city where drivers pick them up for the trip back to the Park and Ride lots. Drivers get to use the Lanes for free and riders get a quick trip.
I slug, how do the Express Lanes benefit me?
Enjoy fast, predictable and toll-free travel when you have 3 or more people in the car and an E-ZPass® Flex set to HOV mode.
Can buses use the Express Lanes?
We welcome buses of any size to use the Express Lanes for free. All they need is an E-ZPass®.
How can law enforcement use the Express Lanes?
Law enforcement may travel the Express Lanes for free if they’re:
If your team needs to travel on the Express Lanes to perform law enforcement duties, please email us so we can ensure you’re not charged for these trips.
Otherwise, the only way to travel the Express Lanes toll-free is with 3 or more people in the vehicle and your E-ZPass® Flex set to HOV mode.
Are commercial trucks allowed to use the Express Lanes?
Commercial trucks with two axles can travel along the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex. On the other hand, trucks with more than two axles can’t use the Express Lanes.
Can I tow my boat or trailer on the Express Lanes?
No, you can’t tow boats or trailers on the Express Lanes.
Can taxi drivers use the Express Lanes?
Taxi drivers can use the Express Lanes at any time with an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex to pay for tolls.
Can I use the Express Lanes if I’m traveling in a rental vehicle?
Yes, but you should first check with the rental company or your rental agreement about coverage, policies and charges related to tolls and E-ZPass®. Companies may add additional fees for E-ZPass® transactions or unpaid toll invoices. Even if you don’t see an E-ZPass® in the rental vehicle, the license plate might be linked with the rental company’s E-ZPass® account.
Please contact us before visiting our “Make a payment” page to see if there’s a trip you need to pay for from traveling the Lanes in a rental car.
I’m from out of town. Am I allowed to use the Express Lanes?
Yes, all out-of-towners are welcome to use the Express Lanes. Just make sure you’re traveling with an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex to pay for tolls. If you already have an E-ZPass®, even from another state, it’ll work on the Express Lanes. Want to learn more about our Lanes before hitting the road? Visit our “Learn the Lanes” page.
Are the Express Lanes tolled 24 hours-a-day?
Yes, tolls are always in effect. At the same time, free travel is always available to motorcycle riders, as well as HOV-3+ vehicles with an E-ZPass® Flex set to HOV mode.
What’s the toll rate?
Toll prices change based on our dynamic pricing system. Keep in mind, unusually heavy congestion or a specific event like a traffic accident or lane closure(s) can raise rates a little higher than normal.
How does dynamic pricing work?
Our dynamic pricing changes based on real-time traffic conditions. There are sensors placed alongside the road to monitor traffic levels and speed. Depending on the flow of the roads, toll prices will go up or down accordingly, so our customers can enjoy a steady drive along the Express Lanes.
How do I pay the tolls?
How will I know ahead of time what the toll will be so I can decide whether to use the Lanes?
You’ll see 2 pricing signs before all entrances to the Express Lanes. The pricing signs show the cost to travel to a maximum of 3 upcoming exits. Don’t see your exit? It might fall between the exits listed on the sign or you might see it on another pricing sign later during your trip. The displayed prices change dynamically to reflect current toll prices.
When you’re traveling on the 95 or 395 Express Lanes, you might see overhead pricing signs. These signs display the costs to travel to exits farther down the Lanes. Learn more about pricing signage on the Express Lanes.
Will the tolls change while I’m on the Lanes?
No, but tolls run differently between the 495 Express Lanes and the 95 and 395 Express Lanes.
On the 495 Express Lanes, your toll rate is locked in when you enter the Lanes and pass under the first toll point.
On the 95 and 395 Express Lanes, you might need to pay more than one toll during your trip because the Lanes are much longer than the 495 Express Lanes. If you see another pricing sign during your trip on the 95 Express Lanes, you’ll lock in your rate for the next stretch of your trip after you pass under this second toll point.
Learn more about pricing on the Express Lanes.
My destination isn’t on the pricing sign, how do I know what you’ll charge me?
Before all Express Lanes entrances, you’ll see 2 pricing signs displaying the latest toll prices to travel to up to 3 destinations. Don’t see your exit? It might fall between the exits listed on the sign or you might see it on another pricing sign later during your trip.
On the 495 Express Lanes, the first 2 destinations listed on the pricing sign are the most popular destinations from your entry point. The third destination is the furthest distance you can travel on the Lanes from your entry point. If your exit isn’t listed on the sign, the toll price will fall between the listed exits.
The 95 and 395 Express Lanes include many opportunities for drivers to enter directly from the regular lanes, which is why the pricing signs show upcoming exit points.
Read more about signage on the Express Lanes.
I can see the price to travel to the last exit on the 495 Express Lanes no matter where I enter the Lanes. Why is this not the case on the 95 and 395 Express Lanes?
The 95 and 395 Express Lanes corridor is much longer than the 495 Express Lanes. There are several points where drivers can enter and exit the 95 and 395 Express Lanes from the regular lanes. Because of this, we show the 3 upcoming exit points on the 95 and 395 Express Lanes pricing signs to keep drivers in the loop on pricing for exits along the Lanes.
What happens if I enter the Express Lanes while the dynamic pricing message signs are blank?
Express Lanes tolls are in effect 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even if there’s a technical issue with the dynamic pricing signs. If you notice a glitch with these signs, please contact us as soon as you safely can.
Can I pay cash for tolls on the Express Lanes?
No, Express Lanes tolls must be paid with an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex. There are no toll booths or options to pay cash on the Express Lanes.
For more information about Virginia E-ZPass®, head on over to: www.ezpassva.com.
For more information about Maryland E-ZPass®, please visit: www.ezpassmd.com.
Does everyone who uses the Express Lanes need an E-ZPass®?
Does a standard E-ZPass® work on the Express Lanes?
Yes, the standard E-ZPass® will work.
On the other hand, looking into an E-ZPass® Flex is a great idea if you find yourself traveling with 3 or more people in your car. As long as you have at least 3 people in your car and an E-ZPass® Flex set to HOV mode, you can use the Express Lanes for free. This option is not available with the standard E-ZPass®.
Do carpoolers need an E-ZPass®?
Carpools, vanpools or other HOV-3+ travelers need an E-ZPass® Flex to travel toll-free on the Express Lanes. Simply switch your E-ZPass® Flex to HOV mode so you can travel for free.
I have a Smart Tag, not an E-ZPass®. Will it work on the Express Lanes?
Yes, Smart Tags can pay for tolls on the Express Lanes.
Where can I get an E-ZPass®?
Live in Virginia? You can also get an E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex at:
How do I swap out my existing E-ZPass® for an E-ZPass® Flex?
Here are a couple of ways to swap a standard E-ZPass® for an E-ZPass® Flex:
What does the beep on the E-ZPass® Flex mean?
The beep lets you know your E-ZPass® Flex is set to HOV mode. Make sure you have a final headcount of 3 or more people in your car to travel toll-free on the Express Lanes in HOV mode.
Is there an E-ZPass® Flex for bumper mounted transponders?
The E-ZPass® Flex is not available for bumper-mounted transponders.
How can I travel toll-free on the Express Lanes with my bumper-mounted transponder?
To travel toll-free with a bumper-mounted transponder, simply call us at 1-855-495-9777 at least 30 minutes before your trip and up to one week in advance. You can register for periods of up to 7 days for toll-free travel.
Please have this information handy when you call us so we can honor your trip:
How long does it take for my Express Lanes trip to post to my E-ZPass® account?
It takes about 5-7 days for your Express Lanes trip to post to your E-ZPass® account.
How do I use my E-ZPass® Flex?
Your E-ZPass® Flex has two settings – HOV ON and HOV OFF. You should only set your Flex to HOV ON to get a free ride on the Express Lanes if you have 3 or more people in the car. If you don’t have 3, you have to pay a toll. Depending on the type of E-ZPass® Flex you have, set your Flex so HOV ON is covered or the line connects to HOV OFF.
My E-ZPass® Flex was set to HOV ON but I was charged a toll. Why did that happen?
Technology on the Lanes may have identified that you did not have 3 people in the car even though your Flex was set to HOV ON. If that happens, you may be charged the toll. If we made a mistake, please give us a call at 1-855-495-9777.
How many people need to be in my vehicle to qualify for HOV?
You must have a total of 3 or more people in your car.
How do you know who’s HOV and who’s paying a toll?
The Express Lanes use on-road technology that can spot the difference between HOV and toll-paying customers by reading your E-ZPass® or E-ZPass® Flex. We also partner with Virginia State Police to make sure our drivers are playing fair by the HOV rules.
What happens if I use the Express Lanes without an E-ZPass®?
Missing a toll happens to the best of us. That’s why we offer our customers a 5-day window to pay for a missed toll before we send an invoice. If you get an invoice from us in the mail, it’ll include the toll for your trip and an administrative fee. It’s best to pay your invoice quickly so you don’t run the risk of increasing fines and penalties.
If this is your first time missing a toll or receiving an invoice for unpaid tolls, call us at 1-855-495-9777 to see if you qualify to have fees waived through our First-Time Forgiveness program. Otherwise, head over to our payment page to pay for your missed toll.
What happens if I forget to switch my E-ZPass® Flex from HOV mode to toll mode when I’m traveling with less than 3 people?
Please remember to double check that your E-ZPass® Flex is in the correct travel mode before hitting the road. Traveling in HOV mode when you don’t have 3 or more people in your car may result in a ticket from a State Trooper or being charged for the toll.
Why do I see troopers on the road so frequently?
The Virginia State Police are on the Express Lanes to make sure our customers are meeting the HOV-3+ requirement and following other traffic laws at all times.
What do you do with the video and data you collect on the Express Lanes?
We take our customers’ privacy seriously. That’s why there are strict data privacy protections in our contract with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).
On-road video is only used for safety purposes and is wiped clean within 5 days. As for individual’s speed data? We don’t report or use it in any way. We only disclose corridor-wide travel speeds to VDOT as part of our reporting requirement.
We are restricted from using any customer information collected to pursue an unpaid toll for any other purpose but the payment of outstanding tolls.
What’s a toll invoice?
If you travel on the Express Lanes without an E-ZPass®, our on-road equipment will snap a photo of your license plate. If you don’t pay for your missed toll within 5 days of your trip, we’ll send you an invoice in the mail requesting payment of your toll plus an administrative fee. If you received an invoice from us, you can pay for it here.
How do I pay a toll invoice?
We offer 3 simple ways to pay for your toll invoice:
What are the administrative fees for toll violations?
Missing a toll isn’t a big deal, but if left unpaid, it can become one. Here’s what happens if you don’t pay for your missed toll:
Why did the administrative fees on my invoice increase?
We spend time and effort to locate and contact drivers about the missed tolls they need to pay. Administrative fees cover these costs. If we send you multiple invoices, the fees will increase. And, if we get returned mail from the address we received from the DMV, your information may be sent to a debt collection agency and you’ll need to work directly with them.
You can avoid increasing fees by paying for your missed toll within 5 days of your trip. Simply visit our “Make a payment” page and submit your payment through the “Missed a toll” form before we mail you an invoice.
How long do I have to pay my invoice after receiving it in the mail?
The due date for your payment can be found on your invoice.
What happens if I don’t pay my toll invoice?
If you don’t pay your invoice, you’ll face increasing fines and penalties. This can go as far as state-mandated civil penalties or other fees if left unpaid.
How can I avoid future invoices?
How do I dispute an invoice?
What can I do if I’ve disputed a violation, but I’m not satisfied with the outcome?
If you have an HOV-3+ violation, you can follow the instructions on the summons and appear in court to dispute the HOV violation.
If you don’t like the outcome of a toll dispute, you can raise that with your E-ZPass® agency.
I never received my invoice by mail but have been contacted by a debt collection agency. Why?
We use DMV records to find the address where we should send the toll invoice. If we get returned mail from the address we received from the DMV, your information is sent to a debt collection agency. To make sure that toll invoices are sent to the right address, double check that your information is up to date with the DMV.
My E-ZPass® Flex was set to HOV mode and I had at least 3 people in my vehicle, but I still received a toll invoice. What should I do?
Our team is here to help. Please call our customer service center at 1-855-495-9777.
What do I do if I received a court summons in the mail?
If you received a court summons, our Customer Care team is a call away at 1-855-495-9777. Please call us Monday through Friday, between 7am–7pm.
Why did I receive a court summons?
You received a court summons because we see that your car traveled along the Express Lanes without paying the toll, and you’ve been identified as the registered owner of the vehicle by the DMV. After a minimum of 120 days in debt collections with no payment received, a court summons is sent.
For more information, please contact Customer Care at 1-855-495-9777, between 7am–7pm, Monday through Friday.
What are the civil penalties for violating on the Express Lanes?
The civil penalties are:
Can I prepay to avoid going to court?
Yes, you can prepay by contacting us at least 2 business days before the court date listed on your summons. Give our Customer Care team a call at 1-855-495-9777, between 7am–7pm, Monday through Friday.
How much are the court fees?
Your court fees will be listed on your court summons. Under Virginia law (§33.2-503 of the Virginia Code), civil penalties and court costs can be assessed to drivers of unpaid tolls in addition to the amount of the unpaid tolls and administrative fees.
Do I need a lawyer on my court date?
No, you don’t need a lawyer for your court date because it’s a civil hearing. Keep in mind, you have the right to seek legal counsel.
What if I need to reschedule my court date?
If you need to reschedule your court date in Fairfax court, please contact the court at 703-246-2815 or visit the Fairfax County website.
If you need to reschedule your court date in Prince William court, please contact the court at 703-792-6010.
How can I report accidents or hazardous conditions on the Express Lanes?
Call #77 to report an accident or hazardous conditions. You can also call 1-855-495-9777. Thanks in advance for helping keep the Lanes safe.
What safety measures are in place to manage incidents on the Express Lanes?
Thanks to our officers patrolling the Express Lanes, you can feel safe knowing that help is never far behind.
We also have a close eye on the Lanes at all times with cameras and traffic sensors monitoring and alerting our team of incidents within approximately 30 seconds. Express Assist, our incident response crew, is here to lend a helping hand to our customers along with first responders and emergency service providers.
What’s the purpose of the “Express Assist” vehicles that patrol the Express Lanes?
Our Express Assist crew helps get you back on your way if you run into any minor mechanical bumps along the Express Lanes. We’ll lend you a helping hand free-of-charge when you:
Express Assist can also alert fire rescue or police in the event of an emergency. While Express Assist vehicles can’t provide towing services, we can contact a towing company for disabled drivers.
Keep in mind that if you prefer to call a different roadside emergency service for help, you may be responsible for covering any toll costs they need to pay to reach you on the Express Lanes.
What happens if I need to pull over in the Express Lanes?
On the 495 Express Lanes, please safely pull over to the left shoulder and stay in your car. On the 95 and 395 Express Lanes, pull over to the closest shoulder and stay in your car until help arrives.
If you run into a medical emergency along the Lanes, always call 911 first.
You should not get out of your vehicle unless it’s an emergency. In that case, please move safely away from your vehicle and wait until help arrives.
Do you ever conduct maintenance on the Express Lanes?
We want your Express Lanes trip to be as smooth and safe as possible, so we stay on top of making improvements along the Lanes. Some of these activities include: