Drivers in North Texas could soon use an app to qualify for HOV lanes and receive a toll refund.
Using a system it calls VeriRide, the Carma app, automatically counts each person in a vehicle with the app downloaded on his or her phone as an occupant when traveling the high-occupancy vehicle lanes on toll roads.
“Current methods of manual enforcement are unsafe, contribute to network degradation and erode public trust in lanes that are intended be premium lanes that serve as a faster alternative to general purpose lanes,” says Carma’s website. “Carma’s VeriRide technology removes the high risk of road side enforcement and changes the focus from enforcement to verification in the most intuitive hands-off way that technology allows.”
Carma says the app is 99 percent accurate, and in any uncertain cases, the app would side in the driver’s favor.
For passengers without a smartphone, drivers can get a free Bluetooth beacon instead. Users register for the program through the app and receive a transponder device for each registered vehicle.
The driver would pay the full toll but get a 50 percent refund, which would be distributed via e-credit, Visa prepaid cards, cash or direct deposit, according to The Dallas Morning News. Drivers with the app will get a full toll refund on the LBJ Expressway East.
HOV enforcement would no longer be up to police but would be handled through the app. Violators would first get a warning and could potentially lose the privilege after repeat violations. Carma says its algorithms would prevent cheating.
The Regional Transportation Council of the North Central Texas Council of Governments expects to pay $24 million over the next 10 years to implement the new system. The cost to stay with the current system over that time is $23.1 million, according to CBSDFW.com.
The Texas Department of Transportation plans to monitor the program for possible statewide implementation.
The current plan is to start the program on express lanes in North Texas in spring. It could later be expanded to Interstate 75. Other potential uses for the app include rewards for biking, walking and taking public transportation, as an incentive to reduce vehicle traffic, according to CBSDFW.com.