Whether or not you can be fined for driving in a bus lane seems like such a simple question. And, in one way, the answer is very simple. Yes, you can be fined for driving in a bus lane. In fact, if you receive a traffic ticket for driving illegally in a bus lane, and are convicted of the charge, you most likely will receive a fine.
In another sense, the answer to whether you will be fined for driving in a bus lane can be very complex. To show you why that is, we have another question.
What is a Bus Lane?
Again, it seems like a fairly simple question with a fairly simple answer. But, if your answer revolves around the ‘diamond’ lanes that are found on city streets and provincial highways, you could be wrong.
They Are Not HOV Lanes
Diamond lanes are generally High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes. The diamond symbol appears on the roadway surface and accompanying signage to indicate an HOV lane. In addition to buses, vehicles with 2, 3 or more passengers may use HOV lanes. In some cases, taxis and motorcycles may also use HOV lanes, as well as bicycles on city HOV lanes. Often, there are time periods when diamond lane restrictions are in force, like 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. during the morning rush hour.
More About Diamond Lanes
The first diamond lanes in Canada were introduced in Vancouver and Toronto in the 1990s. The diamond symbol is used across Canada and the U.S. to indicate lanes of traffic that have restrictions on which vehicles may use them.
That means a diamond lane can be an HOV lane, as outlined above, or a bicycle lane. Or a bus lane. Or, again as outlined above, a mix of vehicle types.
Unfortunately, drivers, the media, and just about everyone else began calling diamond lanes ‘bus’ lanes because their first experience of the lanes was a lane mainly used for buses.
Back to Bus Lanes
Diamond lanes that are exclusive to buses are relatively rare. They are mainly on highways that already restrict other traffic, particularly bicycles.
At the beginning of 2020, Toronto’s first municipal diamond ‘bus’ lane was installed along Eglinton Ave. East. Even the timing of the installation of red-painted lanes was confusing. Happening almost in sync with the first wave of COVID-related lockdowns, many drivers didn’t notice the lanes for weeks or months after their installation. Bicycles are the only other vehicles allowed to use these lanes.
Fines for using the bus lanes are as follows.
- Fine for being convicted of travelling illegally in the bus lane: $110
- Demerit points for being convicted of travelling illegally in the bus lane: 3
- Fine for being convicted of parking in the bus lane: $150
When You Can Use a Bus Lane
If it’s all not too confusing yet, there are times when any vehicle may use the red bus lanes. Lane markings show where vehicles may enter the bus lane to turn right onto another street, or into a driveway. When turning right onto a bus lane, drivers may stay in the lane for 45 metres to give them time to merge into the regular lane. Finally, drivers may use the bus lane to go around other vehicles that are blocking the regular lane to make a left turn.
Protect Your Rights
Clearly, fines for driving in a bus lane are costly. And that doesn’t count increases on your car insurance rates. It’s also difficult to know when you can use a bus lane. If you receive a traffic ticket for illegally using a bus lane, you should hire a traffic ticket lawyer to have the best chances of getting a traffic ticket dismissal.
X-Copper’s team of traffic ticket lawyers and former police officers understand the laws, methods of enforcement and court procedures, to defend your rights and get the best possible outcome for you.
To learn more about traffic tickets, check out our article How to Get a Traffic Ticket Dismissal.