Since 2010, GO Transit buses have traveled along the centre shoulder of the freeway from just north of York Mills Road to Lawrence Avenue East to bypass other vehicles, when traffic is moving slowly.
Bus bypass lanes already in place on the Don Valley Parkway south of Highway 401, image, City of Toronto
TTC vehicles (including Wheel-Trans) will soon also operate on the special lanes. Both TTC and GO buses will also start using a new section of bus bypass lanes between the Canadian Pacific Railway overpass, just north of Wynford Drive, and the St. Dennis Drive bridge south of Eglinton Avenue East. GO vehicles will have access to the new section mid-December, while TTC vehicles start using the new lanes early 2017.
When traffic slows to speeds less than 60 kilometres per hour (37 miles per hour), GO and TTC bus operators and the drivers of service vehicles responding to calls can use the lanes to avoid Parkway congestion with speeds no more than 20 kilometres per hour (12 miles per hour) faster than the main traffic speed.
For the past six years, the lanes between York Mills and Lawrence have saved passengers aboard GO buses about a minute less travel time. But, more importantly, they have helped GO maintain its schedules, making sure it can operate reliable transit service between Union Station and Newmarket, Aurora, Uxbridge, Stouffville and Markham.
Bruce McCuaig, Chief Executive Officer of Metrolinx released a statement, saying “We’re pleased to build on the success of the program introduced in 2010 with GO Transit, the City of Toronto and the TTC. This expansion will improve service for GO passengers as well as improve traffic conditions for motorists.”
The TTC currently uses part of the Parkway for buses operating along its 144 Downtown/Don Valley express bus route Mondays to Fridays during rush hours, and Wheel-Trans vehicles regularly travel along the freeway at all times. According to a City of Toronto news release, by gaining access to the current and new bus-only lanes, the TTC will have "more options in planning future bus service."
View of the Don Valley Parkway--well to the south of the current and new bus bypass lanes, image, UT Flickr contributor AshtonPal.
Police officers and the drivers of emergency and winter maintenance vehicles will continue to use the lanes to perform their duties.
The City of Toronto is installing the necessary pavement markings and signs for the new segment of bus bypass lanes at a cost of $80,000. Metrolinx is supporting the project with $2.5 million for the markings and signage and to contribute to future capital costs for rehabilitating the lanes.
In 2012, GO completed an environmental assessment of bus bypass lanes on the right shoulder between St. Dennis Drive and Pottery Road.
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