(CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY)
Mr. Speaker, I rise in the house today with great news for commuters.
High Occupancy Vehicle lanes - HOV lanes - are about to open for the first time on two Ontario highways; 403 and 404.
We all know that during rush hour traffic is often backed up on some of the busiest commuter routes. But many vehicles carry only one person - the driver.
Mr. Speaker, imagine how much faster carpoolers would move if some of those people doubled or tripled up.
HOV lanes will do that.
Our government is the first in Ontario's history to deliver HOV lanes and we're proud of that fact.
Only vehicles carrying at least two people or buses will be allowed in these lanes. That means commuters who carpool or use public transit will save time by passing congestion in the general lanes of traffic.
We're doing everything we can to make public transit and carpooling a better option for people. The more people who leave their cars at home, the fewer cars we'll see on the road.
That means we're making better use of our road space.
That means cleaner air in our communities.
And when traffic moves faster, our goods can get to market on time.
Mr. Speaker, HOV lanes have been in use in other jurisdictions for about 30 years now. We have used that experience in designing Ontario's HOV lanes.
Mr. Speaker, our government invested a record 1.2 billion dollars in highways in the last budget. But in the GTA, we cannot simply build our way out of traffic congestion. We must make better use of the roadway we've already got and encourage more people to use public transit.
For example, during the morning rush hour about 7,000 vehicles an hour travel on Highway 403. Most of them carry just one person - the driver. That means about 20,000 empty seats.
One bus can take as many as 57 cars off the road.
Mr. Speaker, HOV lanes will ease congestion by moving more people in fewer vehicles.
Once people start to see that HOV lanes are less congested and move faster than the regular lanes of traffic they'll start forming carpools or make the move to public transit.
HOV lanes are an important part of our government's plan to invest in reliable, efficient infrastructure and strengthen Ontario's economy.
1.2 trillion dollars worth of goods are carried on Ontario highways every year. We simply must do what we can to keep those goods moving.
Mr. Speaker, HOV lanes will help to improve the quality of life for Ontarians by getting people to their destinations - to their families - faster.
A safe and efficient transportation network is not only key to our prosperity - it's crucial to our quality of life.
I know all members will agree, HOV lanes benefit Ontario's greatest asset: our people.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.