A look at how other cities are using tolls on their roads

Item date: 
November 15, 2009
Item context: 

A quick glimpse of several road pricing systems currently in place. Unfortunately, the author neglected to mention the Dutch approach which is arguably the most applicable -- and most equitable -- to the Ontario context.


There's nothing new about the idea of road tolls, which date back at least 2,700 years. Here's how other cities and countries charge drivers for using the roads these days:


Introduced in 2003, London's congestion charge dings drivers $16 a day to drive into or within the centre of London. Photos are taken of licence plates as they cross the boundary. Residents who live inside the cordoned area get a 90% discount.


In '05, Minnesota turned 24 km of High Occupancy Vehicle Lanes into High Occupancy Toll Lanes on Interstate 394 into downtown Minneapolis. (See below.) The fee for lone drivers to travel in the HOV lanes ranges between a quarter and $8 depending on traffic volumes. The average toll is $1.30 US.


In August '07, Stockholm introduced a congestion charge that varies between $2 and $4 a day, depending on time and day of the week. The maximum toll is $10, and drivers pay it to drive into or out of the city.


Singapore drivers who want to drive into the city centre must pay between $2 and $15 a day, a charge that's automatically deducted from a prepaid card. Electronic units are installed in each car for $150, at the driver's expense. Singapore first introduced road tolls in 1975.


In 2008, Milan introduced its Ecopass system, which charges drivers up to $12 a day to drive into the city centre. The charge varies according to the vehicle's emission levels. Ultra-low polluters get a free ride.


Since 2005, transport trucks in Germany pay between nine and 15 cents per kilometre of travel based on the vehicle's emission levels and the number of axles. Trucks from outside Germany, mainly Poland and the Netherlands have also been equipped with the electronic transponders that track the trucks' distances.

Ontario's HWY. 407

The first-ever all-electronic toll highway in the world, the decade-old private road currently charges a little more than 21 cents per kilometre, for an average trip of $4.20. If no electronic transponder is present, vehicle licence plates are photographed going onto and off of the highway, and drivers are sent a monthly bill. The 407 is 108 km long and has 378,000 trips every workday.