If your vehicle has a green licence plate (like the ones seen directly below), you can travel in the HOV lanes alone without worrying about receiving traffic tickets.
Update: the following can be found on the Ministry of Transporation’s website:
Ontario’s Green Plates
To promote the adoption of electric vehicles, special green licence plates will be available for eligible plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Customers may choose to purchase these plates for their electric vehicle or retain their existing passenger plates.
Which vehicles are eligible for the green plate?
Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and full battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are eligible for the green licence plate. All registrant types (e.g., individuals, companies, joint and fleet) are eligible for the green plate. Used PHEVs and BEVs are also eligible for the plate, but not the incentive.
Commercial vehicles (weighing 3,000 kg or more), low-speed vehicles, e-bikes, motorcycles, off-road vehicles, current market hybrids and EV conversions are not eligible for a green plate.
Please consult the official list of vehicles that currently qualify for the green plates.
What are the benefits of green plates?
Vehicles with green plates will have priority access to Ontario’s high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes until June 30, 2015, even if there is only one person in the vehicle. HOV lanes are otherwise reserved for vehicles carrying two or more people.
How do I get my green plate?
Green plates can be acquired through the normal vehicle plating process at ServiceOntario Centres. Please note, on-line orders and personalized green plates are not available. As with the purchase of any new licence plates, the regular fee of $20 applies ($10 for the plate and $10 for a new vehicle permit).
Access to High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes
Drivers of electric vehicles with green plates will be granted access to high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on 400-series highways until June 30, 2015, even if there is only one individual in the car.
What is an HOV lane?
High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are lanes reserved for the use of passenger vehicles carrying at least two people and busses. They are designed to help move more people in fewer vehicles through congested areas.
Refer to MTO‘s HOV lane website for more information about HOV lanes.
Which 400-series highways have HOV lanes?
There are currently HOV lanes on Highways 403 and 404 in the Greater Toronto Area and on Highway 417 in Ottawa. New HOV lanes are under construction on the Queen Elizabeth Way in Halton Region and additional HOV lanes are planned on Highway 417 in Ottawa.
How will I know when I can access HOV lanes?
New informational signage will be located at the entry and exit points where drivers choose to move in or out of provincial HOV lanes. The signs will indicate that access is permitted for drivers with green plates, even if there is only one individual in the car.
What is an HOV Lane?
The sign above is used to identify HOV lanes on provincial highways.
HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes are designed to help move more people through congested areas. HOV lanes offer users a faster, more reliable commute, while also easing congestion in regular lanes – by moving more people in fewer vehicles.
HOV lanes on Highway 403 and 404 are the inside (leftmost) lane and are identified by signs and diamond symbols on the pavement. The HOV lane is separated from the other general traffic lanes by a striped buffer zone. Vehicles carrying at least two people may enter and exit the HOV lane only at designated points, clearly identifiable by wide and closely spaced white broken lines and diamond symbol pavement markings.
HOV Lane Rules
HOV lane rules are enforced like any other rule of the road.
The HOV lane is separated from the other general traffic lanes by a striped buffer zone. It is illegal and unsafe to cross the striped buffer pavement markings. HOV lanes are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Who can use HOV lanes?
HOV lanes on provincial highways are reserved for any of the following passenger vehicles carrying at least two people (often referred to as 2+):
- Commercial truck less than 6.5 metres long
- Taxi or limousine
A bus of any type can use an HOV lane, even without passengers. This helps buses keep to their schedules and provide reliable, efficient service.
Emergency vehicles are permitted to use the HOV lanes at all times.
Which vehicles are NOT allowed to use HOV lanes?
- A vehicle with only the driver
- Motorcycles with only the driver
- Commercial trucks greater than 6.5 metres in length or with a gross weight of more than 4,500 kg
- Taxis or limousines without a fare
Who counts as a passenger?
For the purposes of HOV lane travel, adults and children occupying a seat are considered passengers. There are no restrictions on the age of a passenger in the HOV lane.
Update: April 11, 2011 – There will be hundreds of thousands of electric cars on the road in California by the year 2020.