Ideas such as distance-based road pricing, bridge tolls and a sales tax have been suggested to fund TransLink to expand service, extend the Millennium Line SkyTrain to UBC, and build rapid transit in Surrey.
How about ‘high occupancy toll’ (HOT) lanes?
Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Charles Sousa, is proposing in the 2013 budget to convert some of the high-occupancy vehicle lanes in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area into combined high-occupancy vehicle and toll lanes. In these lanes, carpoolers will drive for free, but single-occupancy vehicles will be allowed to legally drive in the lane as well if they pay a toll.
The budget says this has been “successfully implemented” in the states of Florida, Texas and California. Sousa believes these HOT lanes would generate as much as $300 million in revenue for transit infrastructure across Ontario.
The C.D. Howe Institute in 2011 advocated for Canadian cities to convert HOV lanes into HOT lanes. They say HOV lanes have a “limited effectiveness” in combating congestion.
HOV lanes can decrease overall highway capacity relative to general purpose lanes, because many HOV lanes are underutilized during peak periods while adjacent general purpose lanes are congested.
HOT lanes would be separated from the general purpose lanes through a barrier and drivers will be able to enter and exit the lane at specific points along the highway. Cameras and transponders will make a record of every vehicle that uses the lane. Carpoolers will be “visually” identified by enforcement officials and be exempt from the roll. The toll rate may vary to ensure the HOT lane remains uncongested and free-flow conditions are maintained throughout the day.
With the TReO tolling system already in place for the Port Mann Bridge, implementation in Metro Vancouver would likely not be too costly. Cameras would need to be installed and a quick, cheap barrier can be erected using fixed delineator posts.
Would you be willing to pay to drive in the high occupancy toll lane if it meant getting to where you want faster?
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