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Hybrid Vehicle Use in the HOT/HOV Lanes

In May 2008 the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) hybrid vehicle program began and allowed owners of qualified Hybrid Vehicles to apply for a permit to use High Occupancy Vehicle (“HOV”) lanes and High Occupancy Toll (“HOT”) lanes with a single occupant. Qualified and approved vehicles must display the required HOV exemption permit and transponder. ***HOV Exemption still in effect for vehicles that have been approved by CDOT.***

Hybrid Car Silhouette Effective Immediately: CDOT has reached it's quota of 2000 permits issued to hybrid vehicles for the HOT/HOV lanes. New applicants will be placed on a waiting list.

Reminder: If you no longer own your hybrid vehicle, please contact CDOT at the number provided in the Contact Information located on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When will hybrids be allowed access to Colorado 's HOV lanes?
How many permits are going to be issued?
What will be required to obtain a permit?
Why are you only issuing 2000 permits?
Where do I apply?
What types of hybrids will qualify?
When will the permits expire?
What highways with HOV lanes will my permit allow me to travel?
Will my hybrid vehicle allow for free travel on E-470 or the Northwest Parkway?
Will I still get to keep my permit if I sell my hybrid?
What if I already have an EXpressToll® transponder account?
Why are transponders required?
What lane should I be in when I pass through the toll collection point on the I-25 Express Lanes?

 

***The HOV Exemption Program will continue, unless there is a change in the Federal regulations.  Check the website often to see if there is a change in the status.***

When were approved hybrids allowed access to Colorado 's HOV lanes with a single occupant?
In May 2008 the Colorado Department of Transportation's (CDOT) hybrid vehicle program began and allowed owners of qualified Hybrid Vehicles to apply for a permit to use High Occupancy Vehicle (“HOV”) lanes and High Occupancy Toll (“HOT”) lanes with a single occupant. Qualified and approved vehicles must display the required HOV exemption permit and transponder.

How many permits are going to be issued?
2,000 permits will be issued.  CDOT continues to accept applications (although all the permits have been issued) and qualified vehicles will be placed on a waiting list.  Applications are accepted online and through the mail. Facilities will be monitored to ensure minimal impacts to high occupancy vehicles and after a period of time will be reevaluated to see if additional permits may be issued.  At this time, there are no plans to increase the number of permits to be issued.

What will be required to obtain a permit?
The owner of a hybrid vehicle must submit an application, approved and issued by the CDOT that contains the hybrid vehicle owner's name, the license plate number, the vehicle identification number of the hybrid vehicle and the hybrid vehicle make and year as a condition to obtaining a permit. If you are selected, CDOT will issue an identifying permit and the selected applicants will be required to obtain an EXpressToll transponder and set up the required deposit that allows for the use of qualifying hybrid vehicles in HOV and express lanes. There is no cost to obtain a permit. The EXpressToll transponder account may be utilized to implement tolling upon hybrid vehicles in the event degradation of travel speed occurs in HOV and express lanes. Your EXpressToll transponder account will NOT be charged without advance notice and you will first be given the opportunity to cancel your account and return your transponder. This deposit is also necessary to provide payment for tolls if traveling on E-470 or the Northwest Parkway and will be refunded at the time the account is closed if no travel on either of those roadways occurs. If you already have an EXpressToll account, you must still fill out the hybrid permit application. If selected, your account will be modified to allow for free travel on the I-25 Express Lanes, providing speed degradation does not occur due to the facility being over capacity. You will still be allowed to keep your original transponder.

Why are you only issuing 2,000 permits?
Federal law only allows hybrids in HOV/HOT lanes as long as travel speeds in the HOV/HOT lanes are not degraded. CDOT is allowing a limited number of hybrids in order to monitor the traffic flow. If capacity allows, more hybrids may be permitted as long as HOVs and buses are not impacted. At this time, there are no plans to increase the number of permits to be issued.

Where do I apply?
Applications are accepted  online
Or, download the printable application form.
Alternatively, you can stop by in person to get a copy of the form.
The phone number and address are listed below.

Completed applications can be mailed to:

Colorado Department of Transportation 
Attn: Hybrid Permits 
4201 E. Arkansas Ave., Room 124
Denver , CO 80222 
Phone: (303) 757-9539

What types of hybrids will qualify?
Hybrid Vehicle(s)” are light duty vehicles and light duty trucks up to 8500 lbs:

It must be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as low emission vehicles meeting emission standards

The unadjusted city fuel economy of the vehicle must be at least 50 percent higher than the city fuel economy of a comparable gasoline-fueled vehicle

The unadjusted combined city-highway fuel economy of the vehicle must be at least 25 percent higher than the unadjusted combined city-highway fuel economy of a comparable gasoline-fueled vehicle

For Hybrid Vehicles with no similar gasoline counterpart, the Department of Transportation will determine the candidate vehicles by calculating the median unadjusted city fuel economy values for all gasoline vehicles in the same comparable vehicle class as defined in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's annual Fuel Economy Guide, jointly published by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy. The Department of Transportation will compare the unadjusted city fuel economy value of the candidate Hybrid Vehicle, as determined under 40 CFR 600.207-93, to the median unadjusted city fuel economy for the comparison vehicle in the same vehicle class.

The Environmental Protection Agency has completed a draft list of vehicles that will be used to determine eligibility. For specific types of vehicles, click here.

When will the permits expire?
Federal law currently authorizes use of HOV lanes by qualifying low emission and energy-efficient vehicles.  This program will continue until such time that are changes in federal law and/or the lanes become too congested. However, CDOT reserves the right to cancel permits should travel times in any of the corridors as determined by performance monitoring plans.

What highways with HOV lanes will my permit allow me to travel?
I-25 Express Lanes, US 36, Santa Fe Drive and State Highway 82 
Hybrids are not be allowed free travel on E-470 or the Northwest Parkway nor are they be allowed to travel on the HOV/diamond ramp lanes that exist along select highways. If travel times degrade, permits may be cancelled or charges may apply if traveling on the I-25 Express Lanes with only one occupant.

Will my hybrid vehicle allow for free travel on E-470 or the Northwest Parkway?
Even with an EXpressToll® transponder, hybrids must still pay tolls if traveling on E-470 or the Northwest Parkway because they are not tax-funded highways. However, a hybrid ExpressToll® account will not be charged if traveling on the I-25 Express Lanes or on other Colorado HOV highways.

Will I still get to keep my permit if I sell my hybrid?
Hybrid permits are nontransferable. Permit decals may not be sold, assigned, used or moved to a vehicle other than the original hybrid vehicle to which the sticker was assigned. Upon transfer of title of the original hybrid vehicle to another owner or expiration of the permit, the decal must be removed from the vehicle and returned to CDOT.

Transponders may not be sold, assigned, used or moved to a vehicle other than the original hybrid vehicle to which the transponder was assigned. Upon transfer of title of the original hybrid vehicle to another owner, the transponder must be returned to ExpressToll® unless you choose to change to a non-hybrid account.

What if I already have an EXpressToll® transponder account?
A hybrid permit application will still be required. If selected, your account will be modified to allow for free travel on the I-25 Express Lanes. You will still be allowed to keep your original transponder.

Why are transponders required?
Transponders will be used for data collection purposes to monitor traffic flow and capacity in the HOV lanes.

What lane should I be in when I pass through the toll collection point on the I-25 Express Lanes?
You may be in either lane but it is preferred that you travel in the lane marked “toll” as there are fewer vehicles in that lane. Additionally, your chances of being pulled over by law enforcement decrease as that is the lane in which vehicles with only one occupant travel.

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Contact Information

Hybrid Permits
4201 E. Arkansas Ave. Room 124
Denver CO  80222
303-757-9539