Letter to Editor: Price all roads

Item date: 
February 4, 2012
Item context: 

The above link takes you to our letter regarding Gordon Chong's second about face on tolls required to create revenue for the $4 billion Sheppard subway extension (scroll down to third letter). The original version that was submitted is printed below.

By floating the toll balloon, some say that Chong is softening Mayor Ford for the inevitably of tolls. This could be correct but we don’t think using the Sheppard subway is the right way to soften up the public for tolls. Floating the balloon last year, backing down, doing so again on Thursday and backing down again a few hours later confuses the public. As our letter states, this strategy is not helpful to the road pricing cause -- and makes Ford look like he’s actually correct in opposing them. If Chong stood up to the Mayor, that would be a slightly different story. Our concern is that the sole focus for suggesting tolls is that they will only generate revenue -- there is no mention of the many benefits to motorists. There are many other technical details left out of the discussion and the letter alludes to them in 145 words. They barely do justice to discussion we've already led through our conferences to date. And we will continue to explore the complexities in 2012 and beyond.

Re: Transit adviser backtracks on touchy subject of road tolls (Feb. 2).  It is good to see that Gordon Chong has quickly reneged on his support for road tolls. Implementing a tolling system to generate funding solely for one unnecessary subway project is not helpful to the road pricing cause.

Instead, Toronto must work in partnership with all Ontario municipalities and Queen`s Park to create a comprehensive vision that includes GPS based road pricing as part of the transportation mix.

GPS technology enables all 300,000 kilometers of provincial and municipal roads to be priced -- the opposite of the current situation where only 407's 108 kilometers are priced. By dynamically pricing all vehicles by time, distance, place, vehicle type and then phasing out transport-related property taxes and gas taxes while earmarking revenues to both roads and transit, the province and municipalities can eliminate income and geographic equity issues that polarize opinions and reduce pricing acceptance.

By putting a price on all roads (and parking spaces), motorists and transit riders will have more reliable commute times, cyclists and pedestrians will have safer trips and the planet will breathe easier.

Martin Collier, MES
Founder, Transport Futures