MNPass has officially started on I-394 in Minneapolis and the West Metro. Solo drivers can now buy their way into the carpool lane to avoid rush hour traffic and join the carpoolers and motorcycles in the congestion free lanes. However there is one important thing that all drivers must be aware of. The MNPass lane is active 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Under the old system, just a carpool lane, it was from like 6-9am eastbound and 4-6pm westbound Monday-Friday. Outside of those days and times, anyone was free to drive in the carpool lane. This was because traffic wasn’t bad enough to justify a 24hour a day carpool lane. There were many times I drove in it on my way to school in the evenings. Not anymore. Now, any solo driver, without a MNPass, will get pulled over and ticketed for driving in the MNPass lane. Even if they are the only ones on the freeway at 4am on a Sunday morning.
That was big news to me as I had no clue, and often use the carpool lane during non-rushours and weekends. But my wife told me I could get a $130 ticket for going over into that lane! So I wrote the Minnesota Department of Transportation and they confirmed my fears. That’s an important piece of information that I was unaware of.
So, if you drive 394 on a daily basis, or only make it to the city once in a while, you are not allowed to drive in the MNPass (carpool) lane with only one person in your car. Of course, if you have a MNPass, more than one person in your car or are on a motorcycle, then you can drive it it whenever you want.