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Trolling for tolling

High occupancy toll lanes can reduce traffic congestion in Calgary

Every driver’s worst nightmare is being stuck in traffic, but a new proposal for Calgary’s roads could change everything.

After the Ecofiscal Commission conducted a report on pricing traffic congestion in major Canadian cities, they suggested the solution to congestion is introducing high occupancy toll (HOT) lanes.

HOT lanes permit use if vehicles have enough passengers, or if solo occupancy vehicles pay.

The lanes are to be implemented on major routes, usually into and out of the city centre and roads that experience the most congestion during rush hour.

The question is, would these lanes help traffic flow more smoothly?

And, would people actually be willing to pay to avoid traffic jams?

Derek Watson travels to work in Calgary’s downtown everyday using Deerfoot Trail as his main route.

“I’m always stuck in rush hour traffic and it is extremely annoying.

“I would not be opposed to there being toll lanes on major roadways such as Deerfoot and Stoney Trail.” States like Minnesota and Oregon already have toll lanes.

These lanes have helped increase traffic speed by 6 per cent in the general purpose lanes, while still maintaining free flow in the toll lanes.

“People would get to their destinations faster, and the city would bring in extra money,” said Watson.

“It would be a win-win for everybody.”

Watson added that while he supports the idea of toll lanes, he hopes that the fee is reasonable.

“Having a car is expensive enough, so people are definitely going to be hesitant to have to pay even more for their vehicle,” he said.

“But I think it’s worth a shot.”

Calgarians are accustomed to free traffic on the roads, so these proposals are going to have to be very convincing.

A big issue with installing toll lanes in Alberta is that there are currently none.

Cities would have to work with the province in order to change the legislation.

Interestingly, the HOT lanes are very high tech.

They are implemented with cameras that can count the number of people in the vehicle as well as take the license plate information and link it up to a credit card.

It might me worth a shot for Calgary.

It could ease traffic congestion and encourage a carpooling mentality.

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