HOV lanes

Page last updated: May 9, 2022

High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes are reserved for high occupancy vehicles.

HOV lanes move more people in fewer vehicles than regular lanes. This uses less energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions. It also helps people get to their destinations more quickly by reducing congestion from single-occupant vehicles.

HOV lanes are on several provincial highways and urban corridors in the Lower Mainland and Kelowna. 

On this page:


Who can use HOV lanes?

The Motor Vehicle Act Regulation - Division 42 High Occupancy Vehicles sets out the rules for HOVs and other types of vehicles allowed in HOV lanes.

Vehicles under 5,500 kg gross vehicle weight that have the minimum number of occupants (as posted on signs) can use HOV lanes. Buses can also use HOV lanes.

Vehicles 5,500 kg gross vehicle weight and over (except buses) are not allowed to use HOV lanes, even if they are transporting enough people to qualify.

Exceptions

Some vehicles can use HOV lanes even if they do not meet the minimum number of occupants.

These include: 

  • Emergency vehicles
  • Motorcycles
  • Cycles
  • Taxis (ride-hailing vehicles are not exempt from HOV lane requirements)
  • HandyDART vehicles
  • Electric vehicles (EVs) 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 vehicles. Make sure to pay attention to the signs at each HOV lane.


Electric vehicles (EVs) in HOV lanes

Owners of low-emission vehicles can apply for a permit to drive in HOV lanes on B.C. highways.


HOV signs and markings

Drivers of motorcycles, cycles, taxis, HandyDARTs or electric vehicles displaying an official decal cannot use an HOV lane if a sign prohibits their use.

High-occupancy vehicle sign for two or more persons per vehicle

Passenger vehicles and buses can use HOV lanes if they are carrying the number of people shown on the HOV sign.

High occupancy vehicle - bus only sign

HOV lanes and bus lanes are not the same. Lanes with a bus-only sign are reserved for the exclusive use of buses.


Why are some HOV lanes on the left and some on the right?

There are two types of HOV lanes:

Freeway (high-speed corridor)

On freeways, the HOV lane is usually the left-most lane. It is designed as a continuous access freeway (allowing vehicles to enter or exit continuously along the freeway) and has longer distances between interchanges.

Urban corridor (lower-speed corridor) 

In urban corridors, the HOV lane is in the right-most curb lane. Vehicle entry to and exits from the HOV lanes are distributed along the corridor more frequently.


You must enter and leave HOV lanes only when the line between lanes is a broken line.

Exceptions for non-HOV vehicles where the HOV lane is not part of a freeway. 1. You may turn right into the HOV lane, but then must immediately merge into the non-HOV lane. 2. You may enter an HOV lane in order to turn right at an intersection.