Board of Trade calls for road tolls; Doug Ford calls for a two-tier model for traffic congestion (uh, literally)

Board of Trade calls for road tolls; Doug Ford calls for a two-tier model for traffic congestion (uh, literally)

Traffic on the Gardiner at noon (Image: George Socka)

Another year, another group calling for provincial and municipal leaders to consider road tolls to cut down on congestion in the GTA. And like previous calls, this one is being dismissed out of hand by everyone that matters: the leaders of the provincial parties and the people running the City of Toronto. Doug Ford decided to chime on the issue, too, echoing his brother’s previous statements ruling out road tolls. But he also offered a few other ideas he thinks are worth pursuing (we, on the other hand, aren’t so sure).

From the Toronto Star:

At a government management committee meeting Tuesday, Toronto Councillor Doug Ford said tolls shouldn’t be forced on drivers.

“What I would be in favour of, and this is just an example, say we have a real creative company that wants to tunnel underneath the (Gardiner Expressway) and when you’re coming downtown you have an option, either paying $5 similar to the 407, $5 to go under the tunnel or you can do it for free on top and wait an extra 45 minutes, it’s really up to the public,” Ford said.

“What I’d really like to see is three levels, one for a train, one for the toll and one for regular traffic with no toll and let’s develop on top of the Gardiner and that would pay for itself … If you’re asking me: ‘Would I pay $5 to get downtown quicker and not knock off 14 bicycle riders on the way down Queen St.?’ I would do it in a heartbeat.”

These are, to put it mildly, “creative” ideas. For instance, we can’t help but wonder: what company would choose to build a toll highway next to, on top of or below a toll-free highway? Ontario’s contract with the 407 explicitly forbids the province from building another freeway too close to it for fear of poaching its customers. And let’s just assume that when Doug Ford talks about “knocking off cyclists” on his way to work he’s being colourful.

But here’s the interesting part: Ford implicitly agreed with all the basic arguments for congestion pricing—time costs money, people are willing to pay for their time and charging money could reduce congestion. Thanks to Mr. Ford, the argument should now be between those that really, really want congestion pricing and those like him who only kind of want it. We’re guessing that might not have been exactly what he intended.

We need to get creative with transit, not force tolls: Doug Ford [Toronto Star]