Carpool lanes praised
More and more drivers choosing to car pool
Dec. 13, 2006. 12:50 PM
GTA BUREAU CHIEF
Ontario’s year-old high occupancy lanes on selected highways across the GTA have been very successful, saving motorists valuable time in their daily commute, Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield said today.
"I am delighted to say that HOV lanes are an unqualified success," she told a press conference today.
Cansfield said these motorists are saving anywhere from 14 to 17 minutes of travel and that these special lanes are also alleviating congestion in the regular lanes as well.
The minister said more motorists with two or more passengers are using HOV lanes on Highway 403 from Mississauga to Highway 401 and southbound Highway 404 from Hwy 7 to 401 than was originally envisioned.
According to a transportation ministry study, the average rush hour speed on HOV lanes is 100 kilometres per hour compared to 60 kilometres per hour in general traffic lanes on Highway 403 and 70 kilometres per hour in the HOV lane compared to 50 kilometres per hour in general purpose lanes on Highway 404 southbound.
Cansfield said this success will generate more HOV lanes across the GTA and Ottawa - some of them already under construction - and added that more detailed construction plans will be announced in the New Year.
Police officials also pointed out that only about five per cent of motorists choose to thumb their noses at the two or more rule and drive solo. That compares with about 10 per cent in U.S. jurisdiction.
The OPP reports issuing about 250 tickets a months since the opening of the HOV lanes.
According to a ministry statement, a performance analysis of Highway 403 and Highway 404 southbound prior to and after the opening of the High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes in December 2005 showed that HOV lanes are providing a faster, more reliable commute for carpoolers and transit users.
Here what the study found with regard to time saved:
* Motorists using HOV lanes on Highway 403 eastbound are taking up to eight minutes to drive the stretch during rush hour compared to 22 minutes prior to the opening of HOV lanes.
* HOV users on Highway 404 southbound spend only nine minutes, compared to 26 minutes before.
* General traffic lane users save eight minutes on Highway 403 eastbound over their travel time prior to HOV lane opening.
According to the ministry study, carpool travel has increased on all highways with designated HOV lanes.
* Nearly 40 per cent of commuters are now carpooling on Highway 403 eastbound in the morning peak hour compared to only 14 per cent in 2003.
* 37 per cent of commuters carpool on Highway 403 westbound in the afternoon peak hour compared to only 22 per cent in 2003.
* 37 per cent of commuters carpool on Highway 404 southbound in the morning peak compared to fewer than 16 per cent in 2004.
* HOV lanes on Highway 403 run 14 kilometres in both directions between the 407 and the 401, and 11 kilometres on Highway 404 southbound - from Highway 7 to 401.
The number of vehicles an HOV lane can carry will vary by type of highway. However, a typical HOV lane can carry 1,600 to 1,800 vehicles per peak hour. Currently, Highway 403 HOV lanes carry more than 1,000 vehicles in each lane during peak period and Highway 404 southbound carries 1,350 vehicles per peak period.