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.
Occasionally whilst driving the A9 north towards Greding I have rolled past an accident induced ‘stau‘ on the southbound lanes. The remains of vehicles are fairly distressed and I have wondered whether anyone made it out alive. Apparently people do survive high speed auto disasters though:
Subaru has released the EXIGA concept vehicle at the 40th Tokyo Motor Show. As the owner of a Subaru Outback, I do hope they bring this to production soon. The old beast will need replacement…..
Sunday September 24 2006.
This past sunday I finally got around to visiting the Audi Forum in Ingolstadt. I have passed signs along the autobahn countless times and kept trying to remind myself to visit – but obviously without success – until now.
Obviously Audi is not the only manufacturer of automobiles to have created a visitor centre, assembling in one place a museum, shop, and customer experience centre (for those who wish to take delivery of their new Audi directly at the factory. Nonetheless, Audi has created quite a pleasant environment for auto enthusiasts. Those who know me will attest to the fact that I have on many occasions waxed poetic about the cars and roads I have been fortunate to drive with and on over here.
One doesn’t have to be a fan of Audis to appreciate the effort and style that has been put into the Audi Forum. It firstly consists of a museum, a customer centre and a massive factory complex. Unfortunately the factory tours were unavailable on weekends – another reason to return I guess. The museum is quite well executed without being wearing – large enough to present the complete history of Auto Union and its predecessors along with original or restored examples of nearly all of their products. Small enough to absorb without being overwhelmed.
Add it to your list of things to do if you find yourself in the neighbourhood of Ingolstadt.