HOV Lanes Wrong Way to Go

Why is it clear to the motorists of this city, but not the people that run it, that HOV lanes DO NOT WORK?  Since when have you met someone who saw a bus go a little bit faster in an empty lane on Eglinton Ave., and said, "I am going to give up my leather seat with climate control, quad-speaker CD sound, to get in a stinky, overcrowded, cold bus?"  Answer: NEVER!

HOV Lanes are for the most part, respected - with gridlock the only result.  Canadians are amazingly compliant people - fish - and will sit and stew for miles in an overcrowded roadway while one lane remains empty.  Only when one brave soul ventures out and says "screw it" do others follow.  Instead, you need to write to the Toronto politicians, post to our message board, or write me, the Toronto Traffic Webmaster, and tell them to take their HOV Lanes and shove them.

Instead, I propose to build more roads.  We pay enough for them in our 50% gas tax - granted the city doesn't get its share of that - but would they even use it on roads anyway?  Probably not.  We also need to privatize transit.  If you want to run a bus, you should be able to - just like a taxi.  Why does the TTC deserve a monopoly?  Why does any business?

From Toronto Star - Dec. 27 1999 Commuter Corner

                                  Joseph Hall 

                  Proposal for HOV lanes is picking up more

                  TTC chief Rick Ducharme has said he could solve many of the
                  city's traffic woes with a can of white paint.

                  What he had in mind was marking out, with white diamonds, a
                  network of high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes throughout the

                  These lanes, HOV supporters argue, would ease our chronic
                  congestion by making it easier to take transit and harder to take
                  the car. 

                  By allowing buses to run in virtually open roadways during
                  rush hour, HOV lanes would encourage people to leave their
                  cars at home and hop the TTC to work. 

                  Single-occupant vehicles would be relegated to already
                  overcrowded lanes, while buses, car poolers and taxis whiz by
                  in another lane. 

                  Torontonians may soon be seeing diamonds all over. 

                  City planning and transportation officials have taken a new
                  shine to the diamond lane idea and are currently polishing off
                  an old plan for an extensive city network. 

                  ``I'd say it's certainly back on the agenda,'' says Toronto roads
                  chief Dave Kaufman. 

                  ``Traffic is getting to the point now where we have to look at
                  the idea again.'' 

                  The idea is laid out in detail in a 1992 Metro report that was
                  shelved during the city's hard recession. 

                  What the plan proposes is an alteration of the city's street
                  network, eventually turning many major arterial roadways into
                  HOV routes. 

                  Going east and west, for example, Steeles, Finch and Eglinton
                  Aves. would be largely given over to HOVs, along with parts of
                  Dundas St., Lake Shore Blvd. and the Wilson Ave.-York Mills
                  Rd.-Ellesmere Rd. connection. 

                  Going north and south, large segments of Kipling Ave., Jane
                  St., Dufferin St., University Ave., Avenue Rd., Don Mills Rd.,
                  Victoria Park Ave. and McCowan and Markham Rds. would
                  have HOV lanes. 

                  It will, of course, take more than a can of white paint to
                  accomplish this transformation. 

                  Some roads would have to be widened and others would have
                  to be extended. 

                  While the plan is to be implemented in stages, users of HOV
                  lanes should initially notice trip savings of five minutes or more.

                  The biggest obstacle to the plan will be political. Votes talk
                  loudly at city hall, where the HOV decision will ultimately be
                  made. Drivers, naturally, will resent being plugged into a
                  crowded lane while an open one sits just across the dotted line.
                  And, as anyone using the HOV segment of downtown Bay St.
                  knows, this resentment can lead to the daily disregard of the
                  HOV regulations. 

                  The plan calls for beefed-up police enforcement as well as a
                  snitch line pilot project. 

                  There is also a positive way to ensure compliance, Kaufman
                  says, and that's to lessen driver resentment. If bus traffic in the
                  diamond lanes is heavy enough for people to see the vehicles
                  on a regular basis, the feeling of being cheated is eased, he

                  This would require buses to run more frequently along the
                  routes, leading to quicker, more comfortable transit trips. 

                  The biggest advantage the HOV concept has, however, is a
                  growing understanding among politicians and the general
                  public that transit is the only route out of the city's worsening
                  traffic crisis. 

                  ``We have to rely on transit,'' Kaufman says. 

                  Drivers will simply have to take a back seat in Toronto's
                  transportation future. 

                  Readers can contact Joseph Hall by phone at (416) 869-4390
                  or e-mail at gjhall@thestar.ca

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