High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes

Coming to Ontario in 2016

On September 15, 2016, the Ministry of Transportation will designate existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes as High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes on a section of the QEW.

A first in Canada, the HOT lanes are a pilot project aimed at reducing traffic congestion in Ontario. The pilot will last two to four years and will help the province learn about and plan for a more efficient highway network in Ontario.

HOT lane permits will cost $180, or $60 per month, and will be valid for a three month term. Permits for the first HOT permit term will be valid from September 15 to December 31, 2016.

HOT permit applications will be accepted online through ServiceOntario from August 1 to August 21.

To learn more about Ontario’s new HOT lanes pilot project, visit Ontario.ca/HOTlanes.

Benefits of HOT Lanes

HOT lanes are another travel option for commuters that:

  • Promote behaviour change by encouraging people to form carpools
  • Help to manage congestion
  • Provide more choice to travellers

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.

HOT lanes will also complement other initiatives, such as the 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.

Locations

HOT lane sign, featuring a diamond marker, a bus, and a car with two passengers. HOT Permit

The HOT lanes pilot is on a 16.5-kilometre section of the QEW, in both directions, between Trafalgar Road in Oakville and Guelph Line in Burlington. To find the HOT lanes, look for:

  • HOT lane signs marking the far left lane
  • Markers painted on the road, including diamond markers and a striped buffer zone that separates the HOT lane from other lanes

Using HOT Lanes

Make sure you know and follow the rules for entering and exiting HOT lanes.

Vehicles with a single occupant must have a permit to use the lanes. Permits will be valid for three months, with the option to auto-renew two times before having to re-enter a draw.

You can use HOT lanes for free if you have at least two people (including the driver) in one of these vehicles:

  • cars
  • motorcycles
  • vans or light trucks
  • commercial trucks less than 6.5 meters long with a gross weight of 4,500 kg or less

If you are towing a trailer, you can still use the HOT lane if the combined vehicle-trailer length is less than 6.5 meters.

The following vehicles have unrestricted access to HOT lanes, no matter how many passengers they are carrying:

  • buses of all types
  • licensed taxis and airport limousines
  • emergency vehicles
  • electric vehicles with green licence plates

Frequently asked questions

Q1: How are HOT lanes enforced?

The OPP will rely upon visual enforcement, as they do today to enforce compliance on high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes.

OPP officers will be issuing tickets to offenders as part of their regular highway enforcement duties.

Q2: What are the penalties for improper use of HOT lanes?

If an HOT lane user is found in violation, there are two options for issuing penalties for improper use of the lane:

  1. HOV Offence – the penalty for improper HOV lane use is a fine of $110 and 3 demerit points
  2. Pilot Offence – a fine of not less than $250 and not more than $2,500

Q3: Why are you using a permit instead of electronic tolling?

During the 2015 Pan/ParaPan Am Games, permits were used to allow Games vehicles access to the HOV network and it was very successful.

In addition, other jurisdictions such as Utah and California (San Diego) used a permit approach when first introducing HOT lanes.

Q4: Who will own and operate the HOT lanes?

Ontario’s HOT lanes will be provincially controlled and operated.

Q5: Are HOT lanes safe?

Safety is the ministry’s top priority.

HOV and HOT lanes are used in many other jurisdictions, and Ontario has more than 80 km of permanent HOV lanes on our network, which is among the safest in North America.

 

To learn more about Ontario’s new HOT lanes pilot project, visit Ontario.ca/HOTlanes.

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