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.
Based shoulder bypass lanes on the 401 🚌 pic.twitter.com/TehCAMdAlj— Justin 🚄🎵🔋🌈 (@not_taylorx) April 19, 2023
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.
Yep, only when traffic is moving slower than 60 I believe— Justin 🚄🎵🔋🌈 (@not_taylorx) April 19, 2023
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.
Same with Ion 302 bus. They have these on the 403 between Mavis and Erin Mills and on parts of DVP, similar rules.— Sean Marshall (@Sean_YYZ) April 19, 2023
The bypass section seen in the clip is one of those 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.
They were on the DVP and 403 for many years now.— 🏳️🌈🇹🇹JayBee "End Conservatism!" Gooner! (@JayBeeGooner) April 19, 2023
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 — if the folks at Metrolinx are listening.
Love to see cars take an L— Matthew 🐀 @email@example.com (@mattsains) April 20, 2023
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.
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