Transportation

Highway Tolls Down the Road?

By Adrian Duyzer
Published January 21, 2008

The Globe and Mail reports on a new study by Harry Kitchen of Trent University that advocates a fuel tax and new tolls on the GTA+Hamilton's 400 series highways, QEW, DVP, Gardiner and LINC/RHVP to "help governments fund their road and public transit systems, reduce congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions."

Mr. Kitchen's says tolls would not only reduce gridlock in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton (GTAH), it would also raise badly-needed revenue to fund the massive operating and capital requirements of public transit and roads.

"Much of this infrastructure was built years ago and is nearing the end of its life span," Mr. Kitchen said at a news conference at Queen's Park. "Billions of dollars, perhaps tens of billions, will be required to ensure that the GTAH has the public transportation systems critical to remaining competitive."

According to the report, a toll of 7 cents per kilometre on the 400 series highways in the GTA and Hamilton area would produce $700-million in revenue annually.

Mr. Kitchen also calls for a GTAH-wide fuel tax, set by a governing body and piggybacked onto the provincial fuel tax. The report says the tax would be relatively inexpensive and simple to administer, suggesting a charge of 6 cents per litre would generate between $300- and $420-million a year.

"A municipal fuel tax is a blunter instrument than road tolls for controlling individual behaviour but it is almost certain to have an impact as commuters are likely to drive less if gas prices rise," Mr. Kitchen said.

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By Frank (registered) | Posted January 22, 2008 at 08:21:08

Stop building big roads and you won't have to "fund the network" as much. In Hamilton, all it will do is force traffic onto city streets. Why not send some of the downloaded budget items back up to the federal level since it seems that they're always running a surplus anyway. I don't mind road tolls on some roads but why make the price of gas which is already high, higher? I only drive when I have to and it's not like I make enough to spend more. Why not figure out a formula based on the number of kms driven (from your sticker renewal) and the number of vehicles in your household?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 22, 2008 at 08:40:10

"Why not send some of the downloaded budget items back up to the federal level since it seems that they're always running a surplus anyway."

The Federal government has washed its hands of municipal/provincial infrastructure issues. Its solution is to cut taxes until it eliminates the surplus, leaving municipal and provincial governments to raise taxes to cover the difference (and pay the political penalty at the same time).

Consider the federal government issuing a non-refundable transit pass tax credit: the city responded by raising transit pass rates the full amount of the tax credit. Guess who looks like the asshole?

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By Frank (registered) | Posted January 23, 2008 at 11:05:03

I think I'll become an anarchist lol. It seems that no matter which government takes power, someone ends up getting screwed. Also...I have a question about putting the toll into gas prices - what would stop me from going to a neighboring community to get gas?

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By Toole (anonymous) | Posted January 25, 2008 at 20:10:00

The recommendation is to impose toll on existing highways to maintain them along with the infrastructure. But the provincial government is already taxing motorists by way of automobile registration fees and fuel taxes. What are they doing with that money?

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted January 26, 2008 at 13:09:45

The fees they currently collect are not enough to pay for highway construction, maintenance and lifecycle costs; the highways are subsidized out of general tax revenues.

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