Those who have heard me heap praise on the Autobahn system will have almost certainly heard my equally poor opinion of the highways in Ontario. Too many smarter folks have already made the connection between the poor state of our freeways and the costs to our economy, namely in the form patchwork repairs, congestion (notably the substantial increase in freight trucking) and safety.
Although the German autobahn system is toll free for private motor vehicles it does have a toll system for commercial trucking. Austria and Switzerland have gone one step further and adopted an autobahn flat fee (Austria annual highway toll = 93euro / $150) structure for all motorists, residents or otherwise. Cleverly, Austria offers tourists or those transiting the country a short flat fee toll which covers the few days tourists use their road system, but which offset maintenance costs. Additionally failure to obtain a vignette is punished with steep fines.
Is it time for Ontario to adopt a similar system?
I would advocate a structured system in which Ontario residents pay a flat fee for use of our 400 series highways, tourists or visitors pay a fee based on the number of days travelling in the province (could also be built into car rental contracts?) and trucking companies pay a sliding scale according to the time of use.
Of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that the tolls raised would actually go for the improvement of the road network rather than disappear into general revenues to fund pet projects.