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Opinion  

Does HOV change go far enough?

Finally, some common sense is coming into play regarding Kelowna's ridiculous HOV lanes.

Introduced in 2009, the high occupancy vehicle lanes were supposed to speed traffic, provide unencumbered passage for the RapidBus transit project and encourage carpooling. Instead, they are either mostly empty or completely ignored.

HOV lanes belong on limited-access freeways where traffic can flow without stops and starts, such as on the Trans-Canada and Highway 99 in the Lower Mainland. How they are supposed to have any effect when there is a traffic light on every block has been a bone of contention with Kelowna drivers ever since their opening.

The province admitted as much – almost – when it announced the HOV lanes will be scaled back to time-of-day operation starting Jan. 19. Restrictions will be in effect from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, excluding holidays, leaving weekends and evenings open to all users.

Too bad the changes didn't go a step further. 

According to the Ministry of Transportation, roughly 70,000 vehicles a day traverse Kelowna's main artery. The province says enforcement will be stepped up to make sure drivers aren't cheating, but police are already too busy to make such matters a high priority. Unfortunately, they don't keep stats on how many HOV tickets have been issued, but anecdotally, they admit the numbers are few.

Limiting HOV restrictions to rush hours only would make more sense and would help those motorists on their way. Better yet, get rid of the restrictions entirely.

Until Kelowna gets a second lake crossing and alternative route through the city, any effort that speeds up Kelowna's perennial bottleneck is worth considering.

— News Director Jon Manchester

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