Provincial HOT Lane Pilot Project Comments

Item date: 
February 5, 2016
Item context: 

Transport Futures submitted the comments below to the Ontario Ministry of Transportation and Regulatory Registry.  Also see further analysis suggested during a newspaper interview on July 8, 2016 and in our press release issued on September 15, 2016.

Dear Sir/Madam:

Having facilitated Canada’s only continuous mobility pricing conversation since 2008, Transport Futures congratulates the Ontario Government on the release of its High Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lane Pilot Plan but we have reservations about its overall effectiveness. Therefore, based on our own research and 20 years of US HOT Lane experience, we make the following recommendations to ensure that the pilot plan results in optimal data collection, congestion reduction and (eventually) revenue generation dedicated to sustainable transportation needs:

  1. Focus HOT Lane pilot on a continuous network of existing roads in the most congested areas – not on short isolated segments or ones yet to be built. We suggest that at least 50 kilometres of HOT Lanes be added by 2020.  This will accelerate the installation of a larger, more effective and connected HOT Lane network across the GTHA.
  2. Use dynamic pricing – not a flat permit fee – and GNSS technology to maximize throughput, driver participation and data collection while reducing infrastructure costs.
  3. Increase High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) Lanes from two to three passengers by year 2. During July’s Pan Am Games, the Ministry of Transportation (MTO) temporarily installed 150 kilometres of new HOV3 Lanes. Because some existing HOV2 Lanes may be close to capacity in rush hour, they should be modified to HOV3 in order to promote more carpooling/transit use, reduce congestion, decrease emissions and increase revenue in HOT corridors.
  4. The above recommendations will allow MTO to increase opportunities for driver participation from 1,000 in year one to 4,000 by year 4.

We also encourage the Province to:

  1. Use the best possible signage to give motorists the price and time information they need to make lane decisions in real time.
  2. Design a comprehensive communications strategy that provides the public and politicians with all the information they need (i.e. benefits and costs) so, at the end of four years, the pilot is a success. It can then be rolled out permanently.
  3. Encourage Metrolinx, the Ontario Motor Coach Association and other high volume transportation service providers to use HOT Lanes so they increase ridership, decrease their operational costs and improve the efficiency of the highway network.
  4. Provide funding to willing municipalities so they can collaboratively establish HOT lanes or other toll systems on local roads.

Transport Futures supports the government in its road pricing work and is available to assist in any way. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Martin Collier, MES (Pl.)
Founder, Transport Futures