Reversible lanes are lanes on which traffic flows in one direction during certain times of day and in the opposite direction during other times of day. They are useful when both directions do not require additional capacity at the same time. Rather than adding capacity to both directions, directional lane capacity would be matched to the proportion of direction traffic flow. Fewer lanes need to be constructed and can be shared between the two directions, accommodating each direction as needed. The only reversible lane in Toronto is on Jarvis Street.

The reversible lane system in Toronto is operational on Jarvis Street, from Queen Street to Isabella Street. The centre lane of the roadway caters to northbound traffic from approximately 3:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday; it caters to southbound direction at all other times. Use of the reversible lane is not permitted for approximately five minutes when the centre lane switches from the southbound to northbound direction (3:40 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.) and from the northbound to southbound direction (6:30 p.m. to 6:35 p.m.).

Lane directional signals (suspended over the reversible lane) are used to indicate the direction of the lane. A signal indication showing a red “X” indicates that the use of the reversible lane is prohibited, while an indication of a green arrow (pointing downward) indicates that use of the reversible lane is permitted.

The feasibility of a reversible lane system is based on the following factors:

  • road geometry
  • road capacity
  • traffic volume
  • directional spilt of traffic volume
  • number of lanes
  • number of exit and entry points between intersections/lane control signals
  • parking regulations
  • left-turn traffic demand
  • historical accident records
  • other safety considerations including human factors
  • construction costs
  • expected benefits