Transport Futures celebrates 10th anniversary!

Item date: 
November 13, 2018
Item context: 

It is hard to believe that 10 years have flown by since Transport Futures held its inaugural Road Pricing Forum on Nov. 13, 2008! We have created a special anniversary slideshow and invite you to celebrate this milestone with us at our Smart Mobility Summit in Toronto on Dec. 3. But first, I thought I'd take a brief look back at what has transpired with some hopes for the next decade. Your comments are welcome! Cheers, Martin

Dear Friend:

A decade ago, leading thinkers from around the world were saying that simply expanding roads and providing more transit was not sufficient to reduce traffic congestion. In addition, international cities were open to different ways to manage congestion and generate revenue required to fund infrastructure.

Research demonstrated that dynamic road pricing could help on both counts, especially if revenues were earmarked to transportation needs. Los Angeles, San Diego, Minneapolis, London, Stockholm, Milan, Sydney and Singapore had deployed different tolling systems while Oregon and Holland were piloting new ways of paying for mobility with the latest GPS-based technology. Most developing nations in South America, Asia and Africa had toll roads or were getting ready to build them. 

Ontario had experience with the 407 ETR but otherwise wasn't on the road pricing map. In early 2008, Metrolinx suggested tolls might be one of several “revenue tools” that could help pay for its $50 billion Big Move regional transit plan. Due to political sensitivities and the fact that 99.99% of provincial and municipal roads were “free” to users, Transport Futures (TF) and our founding partners provided a venue for international and local decision makers to discuss innovative road pricing research, case studies and best practices with a diverse range of delegates representing government, business, academia and NGOs. The success of our first forum led to 22 additional conferences focusing on mobility pricing measures (parking fees, gas taxes, transit fare) as well as P3s, automated vehicles and intercity travel.  

We wholeheartedly thank the 180 speakers, 2,500 delegates and 23 sponsors who have joined us on this journey. With their support, TF has played a huge roll in moving the mobility pricing yardstick in terms of public and political awareness. As well, there have been a few accomplishments “on the ground”:

However, when combined with 407 ETR's 108 kilometres, less than 200 kilometres of the province’s 19,500 kilometres of roads will be priced in 2021. Of the almost 165,000 kilometres owned and operated by municipalities, not one is priced – and Toronto failed to get DVP/Gardiner tolling approval from the Liberal government in January 2017

Meanwhile, toll “free” highways continue to be built or expanded across Ontario. We don’t believe this is the best way forward if the goal is to significantly reduce congestion, accidents, emissions, urban sprawl and deficits. Instead, a comprehensive, dynamic road pricing network must be implemented using existing roads – starting with the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Parking, distance-based transit fares and transport-related carbon taxes must be part of the equation. As these measures are phased-in, property, fuel and general taxes currently allocated to roads should be phased out. Mobility pricing revenues can then be dedicated to road maintenance/redesign, transit infrastructure and rebates for low-income individuals who have no choice but to drive.

Much more can be done on the mobility pricing front in the next 10 years – especially when combined with evidence-based policy supporting transit, complete streets, car/bike/scooter sharing, Mobility as a Service, goods movement, automated vehicles, big data and land use planning.

If you haven't already done so, please register for the Smart Mobility Summit so we can discuss these important issues in more detail on Dec. 3. We look forward to seeing you!


Martin Collier, MES (Pl.)
Founder, Transport Futures
Director, Healthy Transport Consulting