TORONTO—The Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) has announced that High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes could be coming to a highway near you.
The 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 see how these lanes help manage congestion and add another option for travellers.
The QEW was selected for the pilot because it has the most free capacity available during peak traffic hours of the three existing HOV (High-Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on provincial highways in the Greater Toronto Area. It's the first step of the province's plan to implement HOT lanes throughout the region.
Existing HOV lanes on the QEW will be converted to HOT lanes for the pilot, a release notes, and single-occupant drivers will now have the option to purchase a permit to use them. A limited number of permits will be available. More details, including pricing and availability, will be announced in spring 2016, the province states.
Carpools of two or more people will still be able to use the QEW HOT lanes for free. Currently, carpools of two or more, and vehicles with green license plates, can use the lanes without a permit.
The information gathered from this pilot project will be used for long-term planning for future HOT lanes, including dedicated HOT lanes with electronic tolling on Highway 427, from south of Highway 409 to north of Rutherford Road, which will open by 2021.
HOT lanes are used in other jurisdictions such as Minneapolis, Seattle and Atlanta to help reduce congestion in general use lanes.