is it time for toll roads?


January 20, 2008 by juniorannex

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. 

autobvignetteat2.jpgAlthough 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?

illus_hwy8_into_kitchener.jpgI 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.



4 thoughts on “is it time for toll roads?

  1. sal costello says:

    I never had a problem with toll roads until Gov. Perry started taking our public right of way and tax dollars, both intended for freeways, to create a new monopolistic toll tax on our families.

    Perry’s freeway tolls cost more to build and maintain than free roads, and his double tax scheme is allowing his contributers to make out like bandits.

    An indexed gas tax costs many times less than tolls per mile.

    Sal “The Muckraker” Costello

  2. Robert says:

    Great idea, too bad that when it is implemented, the revenue will eventually be moved over to general revenue. In order to make the 400 series roads truely work well you will need to get local traffic off them by getting people to use rapid public transit like the Metro in Montreal or the Sky train in Vancouver. You can not call a major route a hiway when you can only drive in second gear.

  3. juniorannex says:

    Yes: back to the general revenues thingy – might have to turn over the management of all roads to an arms length authority leaving MTO to set standards and conduct route planning. I don’t think I would want to see a 407ETR structure for all 400 highways where the money is simply being collected for shareholders, but I do like some of the things they have adopted – variable toll rates for peak and off peak travel etc.

    cheers, junior

  4. Robert says:

    We should have arms length organizations do a lot of things for our governments so that the politician of the day can not run a muck in 4 or 5 years and trash our country say every four of five years: Health care; Transportation (locally and nationally); and Education; just to name a few. I think they used to be called, what was the term, oh yea: Crown Corporations! They worked so well that the politicians either: sold them like Petro Canada, gave them no revenue or power to make any real impact like Transport Canada; or worse created crown corporations like National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, which just waste our money by telling us what we already know such as “Stop driving cars non-stop or we are all going to die!”

    Anarchy is coming brother, because people out there think it is ok to regress, just like the politicians of the day forget why we made an arms lengths organization to manage our roads and take the any cash reserve for general revenue.

    But in any case enjoy life because we are the most fortunate people to have ever lived on Earth. We have amazing things like the 400 series roads to take us home to our families and all the way across the country to to see our friends. Enjoy the ride.

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Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron'scruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. C.S. Lewis


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