The Road Less Traveled...the HOV
It's the lane you wish you were in when sitting in 5 o’clock traffic, the HOV. The high occupancy vehicle path has the ability to carry up to 1500-2200 cars per hour, however under 10 per cent of drivers choose to buddy up on the commute.
According to the Ministry of Transportation Ontario, the HOV lane can promise drivers:
- A more reliable commute
- Cheaper fuel expenses
- Fewer minutes traveling
- A less stressful time in the car
If carpooling is beneficial why people still travelling solo?
“Taking the time and energy to carpool to work is too difficult in today’s society of flex hours and personal commitments” says Mike Sciberras from Newmarket, Ontario.
Meagan Scott agrees. Her regular trip from London to Uxbridge is great when she can find a buddy for the drive but, “planning a cohesive schedule for all the people trying to carpool together can sometimes be a difficult task.”
Isabelle Boulard, who developed Carpool World, encourages people to use the website to connect with other travelers. However, she also agrees that, “it’s not always convenient. Gas prices are still affordable and people still have the choice to drive alone.”
Even though the carpool lane may not be benefiting the majority some commuters really like this method of tackling traffic.
Steve Farell comments that when he visits family in St. Catherines and Welland he likes to carpool and uses the HOV lane while passing through the GTA. “It would be nice if the HOV lane could start right off the 407 in Oakville, I’d use them”.
Many others tweeted to Beat the Traffic saying that they like the HOV idea, however entry points should appear more frequently.
In order to rightfully be in the HOV lane a car must have at least two or more passengers. As of July 1, 2012 taxi drivers and airport limousines are also qualified to use this lane. Improper use of the carpool lane will cost a driver a $110.00 fine and three demerit points.
The HOV lane is not just unique to the GTA, “there are over 130 HOV programs operating in more than 30 North American cities, totaling over 4,000 km”, according to the MTO’s website. “HOV lanes are popular with commuters in states such as Texas and California and in cities [like] Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Denver and Seattle.”
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Mike Sciberras has driven through Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. He says Ontario could benefit from following American patterns when looking at HOV rules. “If the MTO is truly concerned with the environment, they will allow all traffic to utilize the HOV lane during off-peak hours. This will reduce traffic and excessive emissions. There will be less idling as cars are lined up bumper-to-bumper at slow to nil speeds, while an empty lane could ease traffic and get cars off the road sooner.”