Discussing High-Occupancy Toll Lanes with the Denver, Colorado, Public

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - bus/tram lane, planning - surveys, mode - bus, mode - carpool


Surveys, Stated preferences, Stakeholders, Service industries, Public support, Public opinion, Public interest groups, Mobility, Market research, Local government officials, Intracity bus transportation, HOT lanes, High occupancy toll lanes, Focus groups, Denver (Colorado), Controversy, Commuters, Colorado Department of Transportation, Carpools, Businesses, Bus transit


As managed lanes and high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes gain popularity as a potential mobility measure, the question of how the public views these relatively new concepts is of vital importance. Concerned that a potential conversion of the North I-25 high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) facility in Denver, Colorado, to HOT lanes could be perceived as too controversial, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) sponsored market research and public outreach and assessment for evaluating the level of controversy. The messaging, methodology, activities, and findings from this effort may provide valuable information for communities that are considering HOT lanes as a component to their mobility challenges. This paper outlines the efforts conducted by CDOT’s project team, including focus groups with commuters and business owners, stakeholder outreach to vested public officials and interest groups, conversations with the public in varying open houses, and a stated preference telephone survey. The conclusions from this effort indicate that (a) support for HOT lanes is greater than it was a few years earlier, (b) issues related to income and equity are not as pronounced as anticipated, (c) public opinion can be favorably affected when individuals are informed on means of avoiding tolls by carpooling or riding the bus, and (d) HOT lanes are viewed as an interim solution that is only a component of a regional multimodal transportation system. For practitioners hoping to extend support for HOT lanes to their facilities, the principal finding indicates that comarketing the HOT lane option with a means of avoiding a toll (through carpooling or riding the bus) may favorably affect public acceptance.