Ontario pilots HOT lanes on QEW

The province of Ontario will commence a pilot project on Sept. 15, 2016 of High Occupancy Toll lanes (HOT) wherein single drivers can buy access to HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes on 16.5 km of the QEW (Queen Elizabeth Way, aka Highway 403), in both directions, from Trafalgar Road in Oakville to Guelph Line in Burlington.

The pilot is scheduled to run for an indeterminate period of 2-4 years and sells 3-month permits for $180 ($60/mo.) The prospect of modest time savings attracted 3,500 applicants for the 500 available permits currently offered. Cost/benefit projections peg an average time savings of 10 minutes on each way of a commute, yielding an hourly price of $8.25 on reduced driving time.

Ontario HOV sign showing available HOT access Permits were assigned on a lottery basis and can be renewed twice before vehicle owners must reapply. The permit allows drivers to legally join buses, vehicles with 2+ passengers, etc. in the HOV lane.

The Province aims to introduce the HOT feature to some of its major freeways after pricing and tolling issues are refined. More permanent HOT lanes are expected to utilize electronic tolling. (Sources: Ontario Ministry of Transportation, HOT FAQs, HOT Lanes; Globe and Mail, 2016-08-27, p. A12, “How much would you pay to drive in this lane?”)