High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are reserved for high occupancy vehicles.
High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes move more people in fewer vehicles than normal lanes, which reduces congestion and greenhouse gas emissions for everyone.
HOV lanes are in place on several provincial highways and urban corridors in the Lower Mainland and Kelowna.
Division 42 of the Motor Vehicle Act Regulations governs the use of HOV lanes in British Columbia. It defines an HOV and other permitted types of vehicles and sets out rules on the use of HOV lanes. We summarize the most important points below, but please refer to the regulations for the full and official version.
Who may use HOV lanes?
Passenger vehicles and buses may use HOV lanes if they are carrying the number of persons specified on the highway sign for the lane. For example, the sign below specifies that two or more people must be in the vehicle to use the HOV lane.
Other than buses, no vehicles over 5,500 kg Gross Vehicle Weight may use HOV lanes, even if they are transporting enough people to qualify.
Are there any exceptions?
Some vehicles may use HOV lanes even if they do not meet the posted requirements. These include:
- emergency vehicles
- HandyDART vehicles
- electric vehicles displaying an official decal
- blood delivery vehicles when transporting blood or blood products
- peace officer on active duty
- marked vehicles responding to a disabled vehicle or other emergency on the highway
Some HOV lanes have different rules and may not allow all these types of vehicles. Be sure to pay attention to the signs at each HOV lane.
Unlike taxis, ride-hailing vehicles are not exempt from HOV lane requirements.
Follow the Signs and Markings
Drivers must follow all highway and urban corridor signs and markings.
Drivers of motorcycles, cycles, taxis, HandyDARTs, or electric vehicles displaying an official decal must not use an HOV lane if a sign prohibits their use.
Drivers must enter and leave HOV lanes only when the line between lanes is a broken line.
HOV lanes and bus lanes are not the same. Lanes with a bus-only sign are reserved for the exclusive use of buses.
See below for an example of a bus-only sign:
Why are some HOV lanes on the left and some on the right?
On high speed corridors, the HOV lane is usually the left-most lane, because most HOVs are travelling longer distances between interchanges.
On lower speed corridors in cities, the HOV lane is usually the right-most (curb) lane. Trips are shorter, and HOVs need to enter and exit the lane more often. This position also makes it easier for buses to pick up and drop off passengers.
Types of HOV Lanes
There are two types of HOV Lanes:
- Freeway (higher speed corridors) – the HOV lane is the fast or median lane as vehicles are moved between interchanges over greater distances
- Urban Corridor (lower speed corridors) – the HOV lane is in the curb lane as vehicle movements are distributed along the corridor more frequently; and transit mobility is better serviced
You must enter and leave HOV lanes only when the line between lanes is a broken line.