So, in So Cal, we’ve got freeways. Lots and lots of freeways. Lots and lots of ways to sit in traffic and creep along. Cal Trans has been trying a few things to remedy all the sitting and waiting, like adding more lanes (I wonder if they’ll ever finish that on the 5 in Buena Park) or carpool lanes.
Well, here in Toronto, they’ve got highways: the Don Valley Parkway, the Gardner Expressway, and the 401. The 401 has got a really cool system that I think on the most part helps to really move traffic along: Express Lanes and Collector Lanes.
At first, this can be very confusing to someone who’s never seen these before (like me). But once I figured it out, I think it’s a pretty cool system.
It’s basically a big freeway with 4 lanes in the middle, which are the Express Lanes, which are separated from 3 lanes on the outside, which are Collector Lanes. You access most all the exits and entrances from the Collector Lanes, so they tend to move more slowly. If you know you’re going to be on the highway for a while, you move into the Express Lanes at a “transition.” Transitions are basically entrances and exits between the Express and Collector lanes. Transitions are place about 3 or 4 exits apart, so you have ample time to get yourself into the Collector lanes if your exit is coming up. Otherwise, you just roll down the Express Lanes without that constant on-and-off traffic.
Does that make sense? Here’s a picture of the 401, maybe you can see what I mean:
See? It’s not always perfect. If there’s a blockage in the Express Lanes, it can really jam things up. But otherwise, I think it’s a pretty ingenious system, and not one that we have in So Cal!