NEWS

Pan Am Games HOV lanes: GTA drivers cope with new rules

06/29/2015 08:56 EDT | Updated 06/29/2016 05:59 EDT
Some GTA drivers are already calling Monday morning's traffic the "Pan Am jam," while others are welcoming their first commute with the new HOV rules.

Drivers now need two other people in the car to use the lanes, which are in place on some 235 kilometres worth of GTA highways. So far, traffic appears to be moving slightly slower in the main lanes, while the HOV lane is moving "much better," according to OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt.

- INTERACTIVE | Pan Am Games traffic map

Schmidt said there has been "pretty good compliance" with the new HOV rules, though some people have been caught violating the three-to-a-vehicle rule. Anyone who breaks the rule risks a $110 fine and three demerit points.

Schmidt says the people he's pulled over "aren't happy, but they know the rules," and warned there have been extra officers deployed to look for offenders.

Diane Reino, who commutes into Toronto from Whitby, said she expects the Games-time lane restrictions will lead to an "ugly" commute, though on Monday morning her drive was going fairly well.

Still, Reino remains "very concerned about commute time," she told CBC Radio's Metro Morning, estimating her weekday drive could be 20-30 minutes longer.

Reino said she expects the traffic that gets forced out of the HOV lanes — when she looked during her commute the other day, she said she didn't spot a single car with three people in it — will slow the other lanes.

She said she's going to start leaving home at 6:15 a.m. instead of 6:45 a.m. to get a jump on traffic in the coming weeks.

Carpoolers like Leanne Li, however, are eyeing the possibility of a faster commute.

"I think it's very proactive," Li said of the HOV changes ahead of the Games.

Li, who travels from Toronto to Vaughan, said she and her colleagues would be carpooling regardless of the Games because her company offers an incentive to do so. 

Schmidt said there's already a lot of Pan Am activity happening on the roads, even though the Games don't officially begin until July 10.

A number of minor accidents also slowed highways on Monday morning. Schmidt said those weren't caused by the lanes, but instead by bad driving.

"HOV lanes don't cause crashes," he said. 

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