go bus highway 401

Here's why buses are allowed to drive on the shoulder of busy Ontario highways

Drivers caught in highway gridlock may occasionally notice a GO bus flying past them in the shoulder lanes typically reserved for emergency vehicles and utility crews, and wonder, "Hey, what gives?"

Buses cruising along the shoulder have become an increasingly common sight on Ontario highways in the last decade and a half, but frustrated city drivers or those from beyond the region might be taken aback by the move, which remains illegal across much of the continent.

A recent video captured from a GO bus on Highway 401 in Kitchener-Waterloo shows the vehicle barrelling down a shoulder lane as cars sit trapped in gridlock.

It had at least one commenter asking if this was even legal, causing several to chime in and explain how commonplace this practice is on Ontario highways.

Bus shoulder bypass lanes were introduced almost seven years ago on stretches of Highway 401 between Kitchener-Waterloo and Toronto with an aim to speed up GO bus service until the completion of a highway expansion project.

The bypass section seen in the clip is one of thoseΒ added on the eastbound Highway 401 between Regional Road 25 in Milton and the Highway 401/407 interchange in October 2016.

But such lanes have been around on other highways much longer, including a pilot project in 2010 to introduce bus bypass lanes using the shoulders of the Don Valley Parkway in Toronto to improve GO service, a project that was expanded in 2016.

But despite over a decade of GO buses passing gridlocked drivers using the shoulder lanes of highways, there is still something novel about the video, which could, frankly, be a great advertisement to sway motorists to switch to the bus β€” if the folks at Metrolinx are listening.

So next time you're caught on a highway that feels more like a parking lot and running late for work, remember that neat trick GO bus drivers are allowed to pull when traffic slows to a crawl, and maybe rethink how you plan your next commute.

Lead photo by


Latest Videos

Latest Videos

Join the conversation Load comments

Latest in City

It's going to be a particularly nasty year for mosquitos in Canada

Toronto mayoral candidate slammed for comments on immigrants

More arrests during another chaotic weekend at Canada's Wonderland

Parts of Ontario are about to see some of the worst air quality in North America

Elderly couple posts dozens of letters outside of Toronto bank begging for answers

People have been documenting how dead downtown Toronto feels lately

Drivers angry after Toronto highway shut down longer than expected

Service on parts of two busy TTC streetcar lines will shut down until fall