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Vancouver taxis to use bus lanes on major thoroughfares

The number 10 Hastings bus seen here on Hastings street in Vancouver March 11, 2010.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail/John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

Taxis using certain Vancouver thoroughfares can now use bus lanes as part of a year-long pilot project.

Taxis will be allowed to use the bus lanes on Pender, Hastings, Burrard, Broadway, Georgia and Granville streets at any time of day. The project will be monitored to find out id taxi travel times are reduced without adversely affecting transit.

"It's an opportunity to see — to mitigate any impacts on the buses and also measure the benefits to the taxi industry - then make a decision," City engineer Jerry Dobrovolny said. "The only way to really get that information for Vancouver is to have a trial."

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City engineer, Jerry Dobrovolny said the taxi industry has been asking to use the lanes for years but that engineers have been reluctant because of the risk of slowing down transit buses.

Taxis regularly use bus lanes in other cities, he added.

During the Olympics, when the city opened up bus lanes to Olympic vehicles, "we saw that transit could co-exist with other vehicles," he said.

Taxis will not be able to stop in the bus lanes to pick up passengers. Drivers who break that rule face fines or suspension.

The taxi industry can be relied upon to self-regulate because so much is at stake for them, Mr. Dobrovlny said.

The City is working on the project with the Taxi Roundtable, TransLink, Coast Mountain Bus Company, and the Vancouver Police Department.

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