Most people and goods in the GTHA travel on roads. Only about five per cent of the GTHA’s total daily travel is done on rail (via subway and GO Transit). The rest of the 12 million-plus trips that are made every day – whether by car, truck, bus, streetcar, bicycle or foot – are made on roads and highways. For the GTHA’s rural areas, the regional road and highway network is their mobility lifeline. It is critical to improve the efficiency of the GTHA’s network of road and highways, through better monitoring and planning, strategic improvements to the road network, promotion of ride-sharing and carsharing, and the use of tools that improve traffic flows.

Currently the average vehicle travelling on the GTHA’s roads and highways during the morning rush hour carries less than 1.2 people. Increased use of ridesharing can have a significant benefit. Increasing the average number of people per vehicle to 1.4 would take 344,000 vehicles off the roads every rush hour.


3.1 Implement the regional highway network identified in Schedules 1 and 2, and complete studies and obtain federal and provincial environmental approvals for the proposed transportation corridors.

3.2 Identify, prioritize and resolve gaps and bottlenecks in the road network, particularly where they cross municipal boundaries.

3.3 Assess and implement an inter-connected regional network of multi-purpose reserved lanes that builds on existing plans for high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes to improve the efficiency of highways and arterial roads for transit and multi-occupant vehicles, with potential for high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. The use of both existing and new lane capacity as well as shoulders will be explored, with an emphasis on interconnectivity and more efficient use of available capacity.

3.4 Building on highly successful programs such as the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s COMPASS freeway traffic management system and the City of Toronto’s RESCU traffic management system, create an Intelligent Transportation System strategy for the GTHA, with policies and programs to:

  • reduce traffic congestion and delays by implementing or expanding road and highway video and computer-aided monitoring for faster incident detection, management and emergency vehicle or tow truck dispatching;
  • implement a coordinated, region-wide system of ramp metering signals at entry ramps to major highways, coordinated with signals on adjacent arterial roads, that monitors cumulative traffic conditions and optimizes traffic flows to reduce congestion;
  • improve and coordinate signal controls for more efficient traffic flows, including across municipal boundaries and in response to major incidents on highways;
  • provide real-time road and highway traffic information and travel-related weather information directly to travellers; and
  • integrate regional traffic management for all 400-series expressways, urban expressways and regional roads with centralized monitoring of traffic flows and patterns, and control over signalization and other traffic management measures.

3.5 Continue to support the Smart Commute CarpoolZone online ride-matching service, and identify and eliminate legal and liability barriers to ride-sharing.

CarpoolZone.ca was launched by Smart Commute in November 2005 to serve as a region-wide carpooling ride-match service. Users can specify their home and work locations, whether they would like to be a driver, passenger or both, and how flexible they are in terms of distance, departure times and other preferences. CarpoolZone will find them an ideal match. CarpoolZone.ca now has over 5,000 active users and over 400 active carpools.

3.6 Amend the Ontario Public Vehicles Act to allow third-parties such as nongovernmental organizations to provide vanpools to service major trip generators such as employers, postsecondary institutions and tourism destinations and to augment public transit service in low density or dispersed employment areas.

3.7 Continue to develop and expand the provincial carpool lot network to include additional lots at strategic locations, aligned with High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV), rapid transit and interregional bus networks, particularly at the periphery of the GTHA.

3.8 Develop road capacity enhancement pilot projects, such as tidal flow operations, contraflow lanes, dynamic lanes, continuous flow intersections, diverging diamond interchanges, shoulder bus lanes, roundabouts, reversible lanes, and moveable barriers.

3.9 Support driver education programs which encourage more efficient driving practices to reduce fuel consumption and decrease emissions.

Drivewiser is a fuel efficiency and driver training program, administered by the province of Nova Scotia in partnership with a not-for-profit organization. In addition to an online resource, the program also includes workshops to promote the use of efficient vehicles and good driving habits to improve fuel efficiency on the road. The program focuses on communicating the benefits of fuel efficiency and the impacts of individual behaviour on emissions reduction.


3.10 Any new additions or major improvements to the provincial, regional or local road network in the GTHA, shall be considered within the context of the transportation hierarchy in Policy 5.11, and shall contribute to meeting the goals and objectives of the RTP.

3.11 New or expanded roads or highways should not undermine the viability of existing or planned regional rapid transit services in the same area, particularly when the transit service operates within the same corridor.

3.12 Planning for new or expanded roads or highways shall consider opportunities to support or improve existing or planned regional rapid transit services or operations.

Ontario HOV laneA High Occupancy Vehicle (or HOV) lane is a roadway lane designated for use only by vehicles with a specified minimum number of occupants — usually two or three. HOV lanes encourage people to use transit or carpool rather than drive alone by ensuring them more reliable and faster trip times. This increases the efficiency of the road network as more people are moved in fewer vehicles, reducing congestion and improving the reliability and speed of travel in the other lanes, as well.

In December 2005, the Province of Ontario opened its first HOV lanes on sections of Highways 403 and 404. By 2031, a network of more than 300 km of HOV lanes will be in place on 400-series highways in the GTHA as part of the Ministry of Transportation’s HOV Lane Network Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe. The network will be accompanied by supportive programs, including the provision of carpool and parking lots in strategic locations.

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