The Regional Transportation Council will vote Thursday on whether or not to approve funding for the next phase of a system that would use cellphone technology to identify drivers using TEXpress managed lanes incorrectly.
Right now, drivers can download the Texpress app and declare themselves as a high occupancy vehicle to receive a 50-percent discount at certain times in managed lanes. But it’s estimated that up to one in every three HOV vehicles are incorrectly declared and do not have more than one person.
The proposed system would use an invisible fence inside the managed lanes to detect how many cellphones are in the vehicle and determine if the vehicle is actually a HOV.
“It would ping your app, your phone to see how many people are in there,” Program Manager Natalie Bettger said.
The new system would also use the app and communicate with an in car beacon that then would ping outside censors.
“And then if somebody gets in your car they would have to have an app on their phone or we offer an occupant beacon,” Bettger said.
If drivers are caught violating the HOV rules multiple times they could receive a suspension from the discount program. However, fines can still only be issued by law enforcement who witness a violation.
The system would cost 24-million dollars over the next 10-years to fully implement. The next phase, which would include development and testing, comes with a 3-million dollar price tag.