HOT Lanes Expected to Chill QEW Traffic

Province announces date for QEW High-Occupancy Toll lanes.

Existing High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on the QEW between Trafalgar Road in Oakville and Guelph Line in Burlington will be designated as High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes beginning September 15, 2016.

Currently, only carpools of two or more occupants are able to use the HOV lanes. But, come September 15, single occupant drivers with a HOT permit will be allowed to use the lanes as well. Vehicles with two or more occupants can continue to use the lanes for free.

The HOT QEW pilot project was originally announced in December and it’s expected to run for two to four years.

How to get a HOT permit

About 1,000 permits will be given out through a draw. To enter the draw, interested drivers can apply online from August 1 to August 21, 2016 through ServiceOntario. On September 1, 2016, those who entered the draw will be notified by email of the results. If chosen, you can then purchase a three-month permit for $180.

Those who get a permit will have the option to auto-renew two times before having to re-enter the draw. For those who are not selected, another draw will be held in November for the next three-month term.

Auto-renewing your HOT permit is one thing, but auto-renewing your auto insurance is another, especially now that the new auto insurance reforms are in place. Learn why the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (the folks who oversees auto insurance in the province) wants you to look over your policy and shop around before renewing.

Not everyone can apply for a HOT permit

There are a few restrictions to keep in mind before applying online. Eligibility requires that:

  • You must have a vehicle that is registered in Ontario and has a valid licence plate.
  • The vehicle must be less than 6.5 metres long and weigh less than 4500 kg.
  • You must have no outstanding fines.
  • You’ll have to agree to the HOT Permit Terms of Use which includes mandatory participation in data collection through questionnaires.

Who can use the HOT lanes?

In addition to vehicles with a HOT permit, the HOT lanes are available for use by:

  • vehicles with two or more people,
  • vehicles with green licence plates,
  • licensed taxis and airport limousines,
  • emergency vehicles, and
  • buses.

If you’re not permitted to be using a HOT lane but caught driving in one, the penalty is a $110 fine and three demerit points added to your driver’s licence. Of course, that doesn’t include the affect a ticket could have on your car insurance rate. Tickets typically stay on your driving record for three years, which means three years of potentially higher auto insurance rates.

More HOT lanes to come

The information gathered from the HOT QEW pilot project will determine if more HOT lanes should be developed. Already in the works is a new, dedicated 15.5 kilometre stretch on Highway 427 from Highway 409 to Rutherford Road. This HOT lane, with electronic tolling in both directions, is expected to open in 2021.

To learn more about the province's HOT lane plans, visit the Ontario Ministry of Transportation.