Motorcycles, Tolls & Transponders on NOVA’s HOV/HOT Lanes

As the unveiling of the newest HOV/HOT lanes in Northern Virginia has drawn closer, there has been much consternation among motorcyclists about whether the Commonwealth is going to require motorcycles to be equipped with an E-Z Pass transponder in order to use the lanes. On these HOV/HOT express lanes, E-Z Pass transponders automatically deduct tolls from the owner of a motor vehicle when the vehicle does not qualifying as a high occupancy vehicle.

We had previously discussed this issue with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and had been told that motorcycles would not be required to be equipped with a transponder. VDOT assured us that since motorcycles are already considered high occupancy vehicles under state code, there was no need to require a transponder to use the express lanes.

Recently, signage has gone up along the newly constructed HOV/HOT lanes stating that in order to use the lanes, every motor vehicle must be equipped with a transponder. This has concerned many motorcyclists in the Northern Virginia area. There is no reliable way to mount a transponder to a motorcycle, especially motorcycles without windshields. Additionally, unlike automobiles and trucks, motorcycles are always considered high occupancy vehicles and are never required to pay to use the express lanes. There is simply no logical reason to require a transponder, which in automobiles and trucks can be turned on or off depending on the number of people occupying the vehicle.

We again reached out to VDOT. Below is the email that we received in response to our inquiry:

Dear Mr. Danielson,

The Secretary’s office asked me to thank you and respond to your question regarding motorcycle use on the HOV/HOT lanes.

Motorcycles will not have to pay tolls to use either the 495 Express Lanes or the soon-to-be-opening 95 Express Lanes. In addition, motorcycles are not required to be equipped with an E-Z Pass transponder. The toll collection system on these two facilities will properly identify the vehicle as a motorcycle whether or not it is equipped with a transponder and apply the appropriate business exceptions.

I hope this addresses your concern. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you,


David Caudill, P.E.
Division Administrator
Tolling Operations Division
Virginia Dept. of Transportation

This will come as welcomed news to those who regularly ride along the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia. Of course, any comfort that this news brings to those riders will be short lived because they will still have to regularly travel the I-95 corridor in Northern Virginia. (My Northern Virginia readers will understand this all too well).

As always, if anyone has any questions or comments about anything that I have written, please feel free to contact me.