Ontario: High-Occupancy Toll Lanes Pilot Coming to the QEW in Summer 2016

Update: see previous post – August 25, 2015 High Occupancy Toll Lanes (HOT Lanes) Are Coming in GTA

The high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes pilot project will be launched between Trafalgar Rd. in Oakville and Guelph Line in Burlington next summer.
The high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes pilot project will be launched between Trafalgar Rd. in Oakville and Guelph Line in Burlington next summer.

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Province’s Pilot Project Offers New Option For Quicker Travel

A High-Occupancy Toll, or HOT, lane pilot project will begin on a section of the QEW between Trafalgar Road in Oakville and Guelph Line in Burlington in summer 2016 to help manage congestion and add another option for travellers.

The pilot is the first step of Ontario’s plan to implement HOT lanes throughout the region. In this pilot project, existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the QEW will be converted to HOT lanes. Carpools of two or more occupants will still be able to use the QEW HOT lanes for free, while single occupant drivers will now have the option to purchase a permit to use them. A limited number of permits will be available to allow single occupant drivers to use the HOT lanes during the pilot.

Information gathered through the pilot will be used to  inform long-term planning for future HOT lanes, including new, dedicated HOT lanes with electronic tolling on Highway 427, from south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road, which will open by 2021.

As they have done in other jurisdictions such as Minneapolis, Seattle and Atlanta, HOT lanes will help reduce congestion in general use lanes and help them move faster, as well as promote behaviour changes by encouraging people to carpool.

Ontario is making the largest infrastructure investment in the province’s history – more than $134 billion over 10 years, which is making 110,000 jobs possible every year across the province, with projects such as roads, bridges, transit systems, schools and hospitals. Between April and September, the province announced support for more than 200 projects that will keep people and goods moving, connect communities and improve quality of life. Bringing HOT lanes to Ontario builds on that progress.

Managing congestion is part of the government’s plan to build Ontario up. The four-part plan includes investing in people’s talents and skills, making the largest investment in public infrastructure in Ontario’s history, creating a dynamic and innovative environment where business thrives and building a secure retirement savings plan.

QEW Pilot Project As part of the HOT lanes pilot project, 16.5 kilometres of the QEW -- in both directions -- from Trafalgar Road in Oakville to Guelph Line in Burlington, will be converted from the current HOV lanes to HOT lanes. This pilot project could last up to four years.
QEW Pilot Project
As part of the HOT lanes pilot project, 16.5 kilometres of the QEW — in both directions — from Trafalgar Road in Oakville to Guelph Line in Burlington, will be converted from the current HOV lanes to HOT lanes. This pilot project could last up to four (4) years.

Quick Facts

  • HOT lanes will complement other initiatives, such as GO Regional Express Rail that will increase GO Train trips by 50 per cent over the next five years with more stops serving more communities.
  • As is the case today, carpools of two or more, and vehicles with green license plates, can continue to use the lanes without a permit.
  • Single occupant drivers using the QEW HOT lanes will use a permit available for purchase. There will be a limited number of permits made available. Further details, including pricing and availability will be announced in spring 2016.
  • Over the past 13 years, Ontario has been ranked first or second for having the fewest traffic deaths and safest roads among all jurisdictions in North America.
  • Ontario’s population is expected to grow by approximately 40 per cent by 2041, placing additional importance on having modern infrastructure to support a growing population.

Implementation Timeline

Spring 2016: Province to announce details regarding pricing and availability of the High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes pilot project permits.

Summer 2016: Start of the HOT lanes pilot project on the existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) section of the QEW from Trafalgar Road in Oakville to Guelph Line in Burlington. Pilot results will be used to inform long-term planning for future HOT lanes.

2021: Opening of dedicated HOT lanes with electronic tolling on Highway 427, from south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road.

QEW Pilot Project

As part of the HOT lanes pilot project, 16.5 kilometres of the QEW — in both directions — from Trafalgar Road in Oakville to Guelph Line in Burlington, will be converted from the current HOV lanes to HOT lanes. This pilot project could last up to four years.

The QEW was selected for the pilot because it has the most free capacity available during peak traffic hours of the three existing HOV lanes on provincial highways in the Greater Toronto Area and would provide benefits in both directions throughout the day.

Carpools of two or more occupants and drivers with green plates can continue to use the lanes without a permit. Single occupant drivers using the QEW HOT lanes will have the option of purchasing a permit to drive in the HOT lane.

The pilot will start with a limited number of permits available. Results will determine if additional permits will be made available and will be used to inform long-term planning for future HOT lanes.

Other jurisdictions in North America have successfully introduced a permit model for HOT lanes. In Utah, for example, a sticker was used beginning in 2006 converting to an electronic tolling system in 2010.

Highway 427

As the first part of broader HOT lanes implementation, there will be a 15.5 kilometre stretch of dedicated HOT lanes with electronic tolling in both directions on Highway 427, from south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road starting in 2021.

No existing general purpose lanes on provincial highways will be removed for HOT lanes.

Ontario’s HOT lanes will be provincially controlled. The Ministry of Transportation is continuing to work with the Ontario Provincial Police to plan enforcement.

 

 

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