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Old 10-02-06, 12:16 PM   #1
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what passes for an "editorial" in toronto...

discuss:

HOV lanes make sense only to traffic engineers
Guest Column Ė John Anga

Some good ideas simply donít work.
Take the car pool lanes for instance. I am sure youíll agree that itís a good idea but poor use of a perfectly good highway lane.
The HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle) lanes are designed to help move more people through congested areas. The HOV lanes can only be used by buses and vehicles carrying two or more people, so the act reads. The Ontario government has invested more than $100 million in HOV lanes. The transportation ministry says, ďThere car pool lanes are part of the governmentís plan to create reliable, efficient infrastructure and strengthen Ontarioís prosperity.Ē Hog wash.
A few days ago, I had the misfortune of having to use the Hwy. 403 going into Mississauga at rush hour. I donít know how people do this day after day. I felt claustrophobic sitting in that traffic. It was moving at a snailís pace and at times not at all. There were thousands pf cars stuck out there idling and virtually going nowhere. It took me 45 minutes to go from one exit to the other; i could have walked it in five minutes.
As I slowly crested the hill ahead, I could see I was going to be there for a while but something else caught my eye, the very far lanes to my left was practically empty with the odd car speeding by. I thought to myself, ď what a perfect picture of a waste of taxpayerís moneyĒ.
Here you have literally thousands of cars wasting gas, polluting the air, not to mention the loss of productivity, and a perfectly good car pool lane barely used. You canít believe the frustration I felt. I had to be at a meeting a half an hour ago and here I was stuck in the right lane going nowhere.
If I was beside that car pool lane I think I would have been tempted to get in it, after all, I help pay for this lane through my taxes, didnít I? (I wonder if some judge would buy that explanation).
I donít know who thought of this terrific idea but itís obvious itís not working. I wouldnít doubt that it was the same person that thought of the taxi-and-bus-only lanes downtown. Those lanes snarl traffic at rush hour every time. Itís bad enough two lanes canít move the traffic fast enough now most major streets downtown are reduced to a single lane.
The bike lanes are another source of frustration to motorists. Have you ever driven along some of Torontoís streets that have bicycle lanes? Did you see any bicycles? I think Iíve seen a couple a few days ago.
I know the intention is right but these ideas are not practical. They are costing us millions of dollars annually and the return is negligible. If the intention is to reduce the amount of cars on our roads perhaps the government should be giving driverís tax incentives or free TTC (imagine that).
How about adopting some of Europeís major cities ideas, odd licence number cars one day and even numbers the next.

The Villager - September 15th, 2006


...i want to respond (though it probably won't make any difference) but there's so much to say, i don't quite know where to begin!
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Old 10-02-06, 12:30 PM   #2
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Is this person really really really that stupid? Okay, so there's all this traffic congestion, so this ******'s idea is to get rid of a lane rather than reduce the number of cars... How do these people manage to breathe?
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Old 10-02-06, 12:56 PM   #3
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Erm...carpool, then. Dee dee dee!

This lady needs to go back to school.
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Old 10-02-06, 01:12 PM   #4
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He's got a point. People generally won't change unless forced to do so. If the government really wanted to make a change, they'd force that change on the people, either by taxing the crap out of the alternative until people no longer find it appealing or taking it away completely. Just giving people an option, which may look better on paper and even in reality, isn't going to convince most people.

With that said, I can only imagine the outrage if everyone woke up tomorrow to $10/gallon gas or a $15 congestion charge to enter any major city in a personal automobile or losing their priviledge to drive on certain days. My family members would all be ready to cut my throat thinking that I must have had something to do with it
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Old 10-02-06, 01:12 PM   #5
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With the level of congestion described in the letter, even if the HOV lane were opened to all, the pace would have only gone from a snail's to a turtle's.
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Old 10-02-06, 01:20 PM   #6
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HOV lanes are a flop. First of all, they are barely used in comparison to lanes open to any vehicle. Second, because they are used so lightly, the remaining traffic is forced into the remaining lanes, forcing highway departments to build yet another lane because of the congestion. Finally, HOV lanes are often built separately from the rest of the highway, meaning extra road grading, drainage, and all that entails. IMHO, HOV lanes are a waste of money.
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Old 10-02-06, 01:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john bono
HOV lanes are a flop.
- here are a few links to actual studies:

NJ study

Maine

- some planning considerations:

HOV planning
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Old 10-02-06, 01:59 PM   #8
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odd and even license plates? wtf.
no one using the bike lanes? um, hello, over here!
whining about not using the special lane when all you need is ONE other person? two people per car equals half the cars.
thinking that having taxis, buses, bikes and cars all using the same lanes in rush hour is somehow better? yikes.

not to mention the whole "only driver's pay for the road and therefore i own it" argument...

he says himself that the government should work to reduce cars, but apparently because he's too lazy to do anything about it, then suddenly all these small steps forward "don't work"!

(grrr)
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Old 10-02-06, 02:04 PM   #9
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I'm not a believer in HOV, especially as the standard definition of a high-occupancy-vehicle is 2 (or more) occupants. That's not high occupancy IMO. At the pace the public changes its driving habits to utilize these lanes the benefits are never truly realized except as a stopgap against further congestion due to growth, one that doesn't come close to meeting the actual need.

I've always thought that if you're going to close a lane to traffic & make it available only to HOVs traveling "through" distances i.e. going from a DTcore to a suburb & vice-versa that a better use of that uber valuable real estate down the center of a highway would be light rail. Something that could actually get a great many of those people stuck in traffic to the right where they are traveling to in an expedient manner. I know HOV lanes are much, much cheaper but they should be, at least I'd expect to pay less for something that didn't work.

One idea the letter writer or columnist hit upon that could be made workable is Free TTC. This idea has been bandied about in one form or another for awhile now. The most recent version is IMO the most credible, providing free TTC (& other connecting transit systems) on the ever more frequent smog alert days. It may not keep many cars at home but it transmits the messege of conservation much better than HOV lanes.
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Old 10-02-06, 02:17 PM   #10
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HOV lane proponents usually speculate that people who are not alone in the car are not alone because of the HOV lanes.
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Old 10-02-06, 02:30 PM   #11
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The other solution to the cost and non-use of HOV lanes is to simply charge single occupant vehicles for the use of the HOV lane... then the lane is used more, and paid for, while those folks too impatient to work out a car pool or too wasteful to care, can use the lane... while paying for it.
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Old 10-02-06, 02:35 PM   #12
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how are you supposed to catch people who change into the HOV lane and don't pay for it, unless the lane is seperate.
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Old 10-02-06, 03:02 PM   #13
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Gene's suggestion only works when the HOV lane is physically separated by a barrier, or is a separate road, which it is on I-15 in San Diego.

But it does not work on traditional HOV lanes that are only separated with paint.
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Old 10-02-06, 03:35 PM   #14
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Highway 403 mentioned in the article is actually a toll road, so it's ironic that so many people were already paying to use it even when it was gridlocked.
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Old 10-02-06, 03:40 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamHouston
I've always thought that if you're going to close a lane to traffic & make it available only to HOVs traveling "through" distances i.e. going from a DTcore to a suburb & vice-versa that a better use of that uber valuable real estate down the center of a highway would be light rail. Something that could actually get a great many of those people stuck in traffic to the right where they are traveling to in an expedient manner.
My wife takes the express bus to work everyday (tempe to phx downtown, 15miles) The bus uses the HOV lane and results in a 20mi ride (30mi door to door including walking to bus stop and to work) vs. the 80min+ it takes if she has to drive. The are multiple express busses daily each morning and afternoon and my wife says they are usually quite full. So the HOV lane does benefit mass transport.
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Old 10-02-06, 04:14 PM   #16
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^^^ It's the 407 that people pay to sit in traffic on. The 403 is free parking.

To be clear, all the HOV lanes were ADDED to existing highways this year as HOV lanes, that is, no lanes were taken away from those important little people who sit in cars by themselves.

And it's unsuprising that people would foster this attitude about any stretch of pavement they can't get their grubby little tires on. It's just more of the "I demand the right to drive my car anywhere I want" mentality.

Maybe I should start riding my bike down all the 400-series highways because "my tax dollars paid for them". The speed that traffic goes in rush hour I could keep up most days.

HOV lanes are not perfect, but I know a few people who riding regional transit (GO) buses more often because the buses are no longer stuck behind the SOVs of characters like the author of the article.
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Old 10-02-06, 04:20 PM   #17
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- If it’s faster to walk then walk.
- Adding one additional lane to two existing lanes is a 1/3 improvement at best. So getting rid of the HOV lane would make this person’s wait 30 minutes at best but more realistically 35-40 minute wait. Not really much of an improvement.
- Just a note on increasing lanes as it relates to increasing vehicle capacity and returning the highway back to highway speeds at current usage levels; The first thing you need to understand that as speed increases so does the following distance so the faster each car goes the more room it needs. At 1mph cars are packed very tight and you can get a lot of cars in a section of road (352 cars/lane/mile.) At ~5mph the following distance about doubles so doubling the number of lanes will yield a ~5mph increase in speed (176 cars/lane/mile.) Quadruple the lanes and you get ~15mph increase in speed (88 cars/lane/mile.) Multiply the current number of lanes by 8 and you get a 35 mph increase in speed (44 cars/lane/mile.) At a multiplier of 16 we finally have created enough space for all the vehicles to return the roadway to 60+mph. Just think of the glory of it, 32 or 64 lanes and no waiting and the cost? Just $690 million/mile. [That's just for an additional 15 lanes.]
- The cost of adding one more car to full expressway so all can travel 60mph is ~$1.7 million. (Avg. cost of highway expansion (a lane in each direction) is $46 million/per mile and the number of cars that can be accommodated per mile (in one lane) at 60mph is 27.)

(Assumptions a car is 15 feet long plus the safe following distance of two seconds = the total distance each car requires at full capacity conditions.)
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Old 10-02-06, 04:36 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galen_52657
With the level of congestion described in the letter, even if the HOV lane were opened to all, the pace would have only gone from a snail's to a turtle's.
Or a racing snail.

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Old 10-02-06, 06:44 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Falkon
how are you supposed to catch people who change into the HOV lane and don't pay for it, unless the lane is seperate.
Easy, the govt rents you a blow up doll for the duration of the HOV lane use.
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Old 10-02-06, 06:57 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
, no lanes were taken away from those important little people who sit in cars by themselves.

.

How droll.
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Old 10-02-06, 07:59 PM   #21
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I've spent plenty of time in my car on the 404 stuck in a 5-mile backup next to a nearly empty HOV lane. Generally at least half the cars that go by are just SOVs that got sick of waiting and pulled out into it anyways because they figured the rules were meant for *everybody else*.

Don't underestimate the culture of total entitlement that pervades the arguments against HOVs. All of the 'facts' in the argument, were, as is par for the course in motorists letters to the editor, made up on the spot to match the agenda.

But unless we start riding our bikes on the highway, it's a moot point for cycling advocacy anyways.
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Old 10-02-06, 08:08 PM   #22
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And John, I had to get my cheap shot in somewhere. I thought I held back pretty well.
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Old 10-02-06, 11:33 PM   #23
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While having free TTC seems nice, you should realise a few things about the system.

1. Unique in North America, if not the industrialised world, the TTC almost operates at a profit. Some years the fare box pays for over 80% of the operating cost. The advantage this gives the TTC is the freedom to serve only neighbourhoods that are transit friendly. If you build it stupid, we won;'t go to your door, stupid. This philosophy can (and to some extent has) reduce the idea that you can have public transit that functions is people-unfriendly neighbourhoods.

2. The system more or less runs close to capacity. The Yonge line cannot carry anymore people (it carries the equivalent of 25 lanes of highway traffic at rush hour, not much less at shoulder periods). The Bloor line is close, only the Spadina and Sheppard lines can really carry large numbers of greater people.

3. This is not to say I don't advocate for more/better TTC service, just that any improvements MUST be linked to greater use. I highly resent the fact that about 20 cents of each ride goes to subsidize the sheppard line because the locals block every development that might increase density (why - because they're worried about parking and traffic).

In response to the OP (or at least the editorial) everywhere I walk I see bikes riding by, and thousands of bikes parked. If you don't like congestion - GET OUT OF THE SUBURBS AND GET DOWNTOWN ALREADY! Of the 10 busiest streets in the city 9 are in the suburbs, and 1 is downtown. The busiest street in the city is Steeles Ave (the northern boundary). If you really think that congestion is a problem - the solution is simple, sell your car, move downtown, and savour the 7.5-10 hours a week (accdg to statscan the average Torontonian commutes for about an hour and a half per day) that you now have to yourself. If you work the extra 15 hours, you can save up for a nice vacation. (the money you save by selling the car might cover the higher rental/real estate cost) The lack of road rage - priceless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamHouston
I'm not a believer in HOV, especially as the standard definition of a high-occupancy-vehicle is 2 (or more) occupants. That's not high occupancy IMO. At the pace the public changes its driving habits to utilize these lanes the benefits are never truly realized except as a stopgap against further congestion due to growth, one that doesn't come close to meeting the actual need.

I've always thought that if you're going to close a lane to traffic & make it available only to HOVs traveling "through" distances i.e. going from a DTcore to a suburb & vice-versa that a better use of that uber valuable real estate down the center of a highway would be light rail. Something that could actually get a great many of those people stuck in traffic to the right where they are traveling to in an expedient manner. I know HOV lanes are much, much cheaper but they should be, at least I'd expect to pay less for something that didn't work.

One idea the letter writer or columnist hit upon that could be made workable is Free TTC. This idea has been bandied about in one form or another for awhile now. The most recent version is IMO the most credible, providing free TTC (& other connecting transit systems) on the ever more frequent smog alert days. It may not keep many cars at home but it transmits the messege of conservation much better than HOV lanes.
EDIT sorry if this is a highjack - but I'm really not convinced HOV lanes are going to be a big help. Bus only highways (no intersections) might be a cheaper alternative to light rail where people lack the courage to build to a rational density.
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Old 10-03-06, 04:30 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rajman
increase density (why - because they're worried about parking and traffic).

In response to the OP (or at least the editorial) everywhere I walk I see bikes riding by, and thousands of bikes parked. If you don't like congestion - GET OUT OF THE SUBURBS AND GET DOWNTOWN ALREADY! .


MMM yeah, let's all move DOWNTOWN!! wheee..let's live in little apartments, sooooo nice.
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Old 10-03-06, 06:13 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
^^^ It's the 407 that people pay to sit in traffic on. The 403 is free parking.

Oops...yes.
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