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HOT lane lottery makes a mockery of GTA traffic woes: Keenan
The Toronto Star ^ | June 24, 2016 | Edward Keenan

Posted on 06/28/2016 10:00:41 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks

The Ontario lottery corporation recently started advertising its newest scratch-and-win lottery: tickets cost $30 (the highest price among its lotteries), and the top prize is a cool $2.5 million.

Now, if you want an indication of how bad traffic is in the GTA, consider that Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca announced a lottery of his own on Thursday: tickets cost $180 each, though you only pay if you win. The prize? One of 1,000 permits to drive in an uncongested highway lane for 16 kilometres between Burlington and Oakville.

The ad copy writes itself: Imagine the freedom of cruising at upwards of 100 km/h past all the other suckers muddling along in the regular old loser lanes of the QEW. Of course, it’s the same freedom already available to anyone who carpools or otherwise carries even a single passenger in their car. But imagine winning the freedom to do it alone in your own road-hogging, gas-guzzling living room on wheels. If you dislike people, then this is the prize for you: you don’t have to put up with their company, and you can laugh at them as you speed past their non-prize-winning cars. JACKPOT.

As a lottery, it makes a certain amount of sense, I guess. Boost people’s spirits, give them hope. I’m not sure it makes all that much sense in any other way — at least not in the pilot form just announced.

It pains me to say so, as someone who has long suggested tolls or congestion pricing should be implemented. Part of me wants to say, “Well, at least it’s a start.” Maybe it is. It’s just a pilot project preparing the launch of high-occupancy toll lanes across the province, with 15.5 kilometres of electronic toll lanes rolling out on the 427 opening in 2021. But, for now, this one doesn’t look particularly like progress.

In the years I’ve been writing about and reading about and arguing about road pricing, there are usually two justifications given for wanting to do it: one is to raise money, and the other is to meaningfully change driver behaviour to cut the amount of traffic. I think both are worthy goals. Not every advocate of pricing likes both justifications: there are those who say tolls should be revenue neutral and just function in a way that keeps traffic moving smoothly, there are others who say the main reason you want them is to fund public transit. But those are the two main goals, even if some people reject one or the other.

This pilot project, as announced, seems unlikely to accomplish either of those goals.

I mean, certainly, it will raise some revenue. One thousand permits, $180 each: there’s $180,000 in revenue over three months. But for a government with more than $130 billion in total existing income, this is among the least effective cash grabs imaginable. It’ll take them more than 13 years to generate enough revenue from this project at this price to pay off a single winner of their new scratch-and-win lottery.

And it is hard to see exactly how the program is supposed to change driver behaviour. The “high occupancy” part — the part that’s already been in place for a while — makes sense: people who want to get to work faster can share rides, and presumably some do, and will. OK.

The “toll” part’s contribution to cutting congestion, under the lottery-permit system, is less clear. The lucky few drivers who win permits get to speed along — perhaps they’ll drive more, and more often, to take advantage of their luck. Call in sick to the office and just cruise back and forth between Oakville Place and Burlington Mall all day, luxuriating in the unobstructed movement.

The other schmucks? Well, nothing at all changes for them, does it? One thousand fewer cars in their lanes will hardly make them move faster (this stretch of highway handles over 180,000 vehicles a day). The toll-permit charges that those without permits do not pay will do nothing to make them change their minds about driving. How could it? They’ll just muddle along as they have until now.

The nature of pilot projects is you monitor them and see how things go. Fair enough. The province will try out their new system, and presumably will make changes when they see if it works or not. Perhaps it’ll turn out to be wrong. But I expect it to be nothing more than a novel new lottery, which in making a smoother drive a prize, ensures GTA traffic will remain as bad as ever for the foreseeable future.

TOPICS: Business/Economy; Canada; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: canada; commuters; congestion; gta; hot; hotlanes; infrastructure; lane; lanes; lottery; ontario; permits; qew; toronto; traffic; transportation

1 posted on 06/28/2016 10:00:42 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
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To: -YYZ-; JudyinCanada; USFRIENDINVICTORIA; Former Proud Canadian; fanfan; Squawk 8888; GMMAC; BobL


2 posted on 06/28/2016 10:03:26 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Cuckservative: a "conservative" willing to raise another country's ideology in his own country)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Those commies should ease congestion by doing away with the carpool lane and letting everyone use it.

3 posted on 06/28/2016 10:23:50 PM PDT by Impy (Never Shillery)
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To: Impy
"Those commies should ease congestion by doing away with the carpool lane and letting everyone use it."

There is an HOV lane on I-5 between downtown Portland, OR, and just short of the Interstate Bridge across the Columbia River, a distance of about 5 miles. It is CONSTANTLY at a crawl, bumper to bumper, morning and evening, starting when the HOV lane timing kicks in, and continuing until the jam ends where the HOV lane stops. It's been going on for years. It will continue to be jammed until the Sun burns out, since there is no leftist bureaucracy that will ever admit to perhaps having a poor idea that experience has proved to be wrong.

It's like sitting in traffic in Portlandia, at 5:00, with one third of the traffic lane out of bounds because of those F#CKING bike lanes, and out of boredom, counting the number of bicycles you see. Sometimes, in 30 minutes, you can get all the way to 10 by actual count. At least one is some anorexic fairy in orange spandex, on $10,000 of carbon fiber and a rear view mirror on his glasses...

(I've dreamed of popping my door open and sending him to his Atheistic Reward...)

4 posted on 06/28/2016 11:43:37 PM PDT by jonascord (It's sarcasm unless otherwise noted... This time, it's not.)
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To: jonascord

the 405 north of Seattle has that beat...the two lanes on the far left are for the special people that spend extra money so they can zoom by the regular peons...the regular peons are very congested because of the two left lanes being taken over....there are signs all over saying that “these lanes open to all” which means you can drive on it, but you’ll be sent a bill thru their web cam system..

5 posted on 06/28/2016 11:50:42 PM PDT by cherry
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To: Impy

But then they couldn’t charge you to use the once-free lane that you once used for free.

6 posted on 06/29/2016 1:28:42 AM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Cuckservative: a "conservative" willing to raise another country's ideology in his own country)
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

Thanks Tol. I think they’re just trying to get some vehicles into those lanes. What would have been cute would have been to auction those passes.

7 posted on 06/29/2016 3:42:27 AM PDT by BobL
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

HOV should be eliminated. It starts w/Congress, that allows the feds to pay states/municipalities for implementing/maintaining an HOV plan.

States eager to suck up that cash push this system that makes day to day life harder for the majority.

I always laugh cynically whenever I hear government say something like “safety first” while at the same, in order to provide a smooth HOV ride, create merge lanes on the left side of the road. If you live near DC, try riding around where 66 comes onto 495 and you’ll see how HOV-cash puts “safety second”.

I’ve seen the before and after of HOV implementation on commutes I was traveling at the time. Traffic was ALWAYS worse from there on in, in that area.

Another interesting HOV note- typically, when an accident occurs, traffic gets worse right? I’ve been driving at times when there was an accident so bad that they actually lifted HOV restrictions.

Funny thing is, traffic was actually better with the accident and no HOV compared to no accident and HOV in place.

That fact alone should tell everyone that HOV hinders throughput.

8 posted on 06/29/2016 4:50:43 AM PDT by fruser1
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To: Tolerance Sucks Rocks

I would bet that a large percentage of the people in these HOV lanes on any given day would have been driving with more than one person in the car, anyway - couples commuting together, people with babies (yes, one baby in a car seat qualifies you for HOV), etc. Not at all sure that all that many people actually go through the hassle of carpooling so that they can make use of the HOV lanes.

Meanwhile these things are a safety hazard and an impediment to the flow of traffic. The safety hazard comes from having cars whizzing down the HOV lane at 100+ km/h feet away from lanes that are sometimes (often) not moving at all. And then the fun when someone decides to jump into that HOV lane (often over the solid lines indicating that entering the HOV lane is not permitted) at low speed while cars in it approach at speed (rear enders - seen a bad one last week due to this). Not to mention the hazards of having people, often too late, trying to get from the HOV lane across lanes of traffic to make an exit.

Finally, there’s the fun on my drive home, where the HOV lane ends (becomes a regular lane) just before the split between the QEW and 403, and all the traffic that’s been in the HOV lane now tries to weave through to the two right hand lanes to make the 403, all while other traffic is trying to sort itself into the correct lanes for where they’re going, including a lot of traffic coming from on on-ramp at the same spot.

I can’t believe this is something that any competent traffic engineer would come up. Only done at the behest of our politicians and civil servants who know best for us, and how to engineer our behaviour.

9 posted on 06/29/2016 6:38:31 AM PDT by -YYZ- (Strong like bull, smart like tractor.)
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