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Commuting 101: Becoming Fluent in Traffic Talk

Thursday, April 21, 2005; Page PG43

HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle), or carpool, lanes are reserved for carpools, vanpools, buses and motorcycles during weekday morning and evening rush hours. They are designated either HOV-2 (two or more passengers required) or HOV-3 (three or more passengers required), which means there must be at least that many people in a vehicle during the posted carpool lane hours. Virginia allows solo drivers of hybrid vehicles in carpool lanes, but Maryland does not.

In the Northern Virginia area, there are carpool lanes on Interstates 66, 95 and 395 (Shirley Highway) and the Dulles Toll Road (Route 267). In Maryland, carpool lanes are found on Interstate 270 and Route 50.

For HOV hours and information on enforcement, visit the following Web sites:

In Virginia, www.virginiadot.org/comtravel/hov-default.asp.

In Maryland, www.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcgtmpl.asp?url=/content/dpwt/transit/commuter/page5.asp#HOV and www.sha.state.md.us/businesswithsha/projects/oc/us50hov/welcome.asp.

Information can also be found at www.mwcog.org/commuter/Bdy-carpool-hov.htmland www.commuterpage.com/hov.htm.

E-ZPass is a toll collection program that allows drivers traveling in Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New York to pay tolls electronically using a device mounted on their windshields. For information or to sign up for E-ZPass in Maryland, call 888-321-6824 or TTY 877-410-2950, or visit www.ezpassmd.com. In Virginia, visit www.ezpassva.com.

Smart Tag is the electronic toll program operating in Virginia, including the Dulles Toll Road and Dulles Greenway. The tags also work on toll roads in states that accept E-ZPass. Virginia eventually will phase out the Smart Tag name and use only the E-ZPass name.

For more information or to sign up for Smart Tag or an E-ZPass, call 877-762-7824 or 703-391-7630 or visit www.smart-tag.com.

"Slugging" is a term used by commuters along the Shirley Highway/Interstate 395/Interstate 95 corridor of Northern Virginia traveling into and out of downtown Washington. Commuters wait in line at designated locations and are picked up by other commuters who want to use the free HOV carpool lanes but lack the required number of riders. For information on slugging and slug line locations, visit www.slug-lines.com or www.commuterpage.com/slug.htm.


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