The pylons came off Highway 404 northbound Monday morning as the fourth HOV lane on the 400-series roadways officially opened.

Transportation Minister Donna Cansfield said the lane, reserved for cars carrying at least two people, will ease commuter headaches for seven kilometres from Sheppard Avenue to Highway 7 -- if they're willing to double-up.

Since the highway's southbound HOV lane opened in 2005, Canfield said the 11-kilometre stretch goes by much quicker for some travellers.

"A trip south on (Highway) 404, during the morning rush hour, averages 9 minutes now in an HOV lane -- 17 minutes faster than before," Canfield said.

The other two HOV lanes, which are marked by special signs and diamond symbols, run on Highway 403 for 14 kilometres in both directions between Highway 407 and Highway 401.

On the Highway 403 stretch, the average rush hour speed on HOV lanes is 100 km/h compared to 60 km/h in the normal traffic lanes, making the trip quicker and greener for vehicles carrying more than one person.

And according to the province, commuters want to live life in the fast lane -- carpooling has increased 15 to 25 per cent on the roadways with the HOV lanes.

With a report from CTV's Galit Solomon

Ontario has committed to expanding the lanes throughout the Golden Horseshoe, and construction is already underway along Queen Elizabeth Way.

By 2031, Cansfield said nearly every 400-series highway will likely have an HOV lane.