If road tolls come to Toronto, who should pay them?

Item date: 
March 15, 2016
Item context: 

Metro News interviewed Martin Collier for 30 minutes to get his take on the City of Toronto's RFP to study Gardiner/DVP tolls this year -- with possible installation by 2024. Besides what was written in the article below (quote corrections in brackets), Martin suggested a timeline for how the city and province could work together over the next 8 years to ensure a fully priced network is implemented: 

1)    March 2016 – December 2017: City undertakes DVP/Gardiner study and advocates for uploading of both facilities to province. 
2)    January 2018: Province agrees to upload and takes on system implementation costs associated with DVP/Gardiner study.
3)    By 2024 (hopefully much sooner):

  • province creates all-lane network of dynamically priced roads (starting with 401, 427, Gardiner, DVP) – using GPS, transponders, connected vehicle technology and/or Presto. 
  • HOT Lanes on QEW are extended east to 427.  Similarly, 427 HOT Lanes between Rutherford Road and 409 are extended south to 401. Eventually all lanes are priced.
  • All users pay – no exemptions for Toronto residents. Earmarked toll revenues for transit, complete streets and low income assistance program (or provide credits through income tax schedule).  This program would be available to citizens who must drive and are making $30K annual income or less.


Tolls could be coming to the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway, but it may not be a pay-one, pay-all system.

Some believe tolls should only be paid by those commuting into Toronto from other cities.

“Given that so many people who drive into Toronto every day use infrastructure paid for solely by Toronto taxpayers, it's a reasonable question to ask,” Coun. Josh Matlow said....

The city has issued a request for consultants to help study the impact of adding tolls to two of its busiest roadways. Among other things, the study will look at precisely how much – and who – to charge, said Nazzareno Capano, Toronto’s manager of transportation planning and policy...

Martin Collier, founder of Transport Futures, warned against only charging non-residents. One of the goals of road pricing is to encourage alternate (sustainable) transportation choices, he said, and giving Torontonians a free ride could do the opposite.

“It may even induce people (choice riders) inside Toronto to not take transit because traffic on those roads will decrease as people from Whitby and Oshawa choose other routes (or modes),” he said.

Rather than draw lines on a map, Collier said the city must ensure tolls don’t adversely affect low-income residents. Other jurisdictions, including Los Angeles, offer rebates for low-income drivers and also funnel revenue from tolls into (sustainable transportation) programs – including public transit – that alleviate poverty, he said.

The study is expected to be complete by the end of year, at which time it will be presented to council.

Even if councillors choose to implement tolls, environmental assessment work and scheduled repair work on the Gardiner, means they won’t be in place until about 2024, Capano said.