February 3, 2017
Below is Transport Futures' official response to the provincial government's paternalistic decision to veto the City of Toronto's request to install tolls on the two highways it owns. Your comments are welcome.
GUELPH, ON, Feb. 3, 2017 – Transport Futures (TF) is extremely disappointed by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s rejection of Toronto City Council’s request to install road tolls on the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) and Gardiner Expressway (GE).
“After eight years of facilitating Canada’s only continuous mobility pricing conversation, we started seeing significant GTHA tolling progress in 2016”, says TF founder Martin Collier.
“We thought Mayor John Tory and Premier Wynne were on the same page. City Council voted 32-9 in favour of DVP/GE tolls a few months after the province commenced its HOT Lanes pilot project and Highway 407 East and 412 started collecting tolls on February 1.”
Transportation Minister Stephen Del Duca recently stated that these new toll highways “will provide an efficient alternate route for both commuters and travellers alike. Revenue generated from tolls will be used towards Ontario’s transportation infrastructure, which will help ensure that we can deliver critical projects exactly like these for years to come.”
“It is ironic that the government uses this rationale to celebrate a provincially managed toll highway located in the 905 but stops Toronto from achieving the same efficiency and revenue goals with the roads that it owns in the 416”, Collier stated.
Collier is miffed by the government’s excuse that DVP/GE tolls cannot be installed until transit is available for all drivers across the GTHA. This excuse was used in September 2008 prior to The Big Move being finalized, in May 2013 when the Metrolinx Investment Strategy was released and again in December 2013 when the provincially-appointed Transit Panel tabled its report to Premier Wynne.
“This government has been spooked by anti-tax opinion surveys rather than focussing on good public policy. The extra $158 million per year it has promised to Toronto starting in 2019 may build some transit but will do nothing to manage traffic demand or generate new revenue. Further, when a better transit network is finally available in the next decade or two, choice riders will have to pay a fare – which is a toll by another name. Whether paying for transit or roads, motorists will resist paying directly for the infrastructure they use.”
Though the Premier didn’t entirely close the door on Toronto tolls, Collier fears that real progress will come to a halt for the foreseeable future.
“The province and city had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a geographically-equitable toll network. With the Liberals now aligning themselves with the position of the PCs and the NDP instead of with Toronto City Council, traffic congestion will get worse, our economy will suffer as will our quality of life.”
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For further information, please contact:
Director, Healthy Transport Consulting
Founder, Transport Futures