Toronto road tolls go from abhorrent to approved: how’d that happen?
The Star reported on Saturday, and other papers have followed since, that the Toronto City Summit Alliance has released a new report calling for a bunch of new measures to control traffic and improve transit spending in Toronto. The recommendations read like an urban planner’s dream: tolls on the freeways coming into the city, parking surcharges and a couple of different gas taxes. Of course, two years ago, people proposing road tolls for the GTA were being shouted down and probably accused of being Communists. What changed?
In 2008, a Trent University academic said road tolls were a matter of when, not if, for the GTA. “I got the living daylights kicked out of me in editorials,” Harry Kitchen told the Star earlier this year. Paul Bedford, former chief planner for Toronto, no doubt has similar tales. Then, late last year, the one existing toll road in Ontario became public enemy number one when the Star reported on the 407’s habit of collecting tooth fillings unpaid fees from the dead, among other hardball tactics.
What seems to have changed people’s minds about road tolls—and by “people,” we mean report-writing academic types—is the discovery that not only is Toronto’s traffic bad, it’s worse than people had imagined: last year, the OECD released a study showing that traffic woes cost the city $3.3 billion; and earlier this year, we came behind smog-choked cities like L.A. in a Toronto Board of Trade report that relied heavily on the OECD’s numbers. Since the OECD report of 2009, tolls have been getting a lot more positive press in this city, 407 notwithstanding.
There’s still a ton of opposition to road tolls: many columnists (including those who disagree with their own editorial boards); most drivers, no doubt; and, of course, people who would impose them, like city and provincial politicians not named Miller or McCallion. For some reason, people who have to run in a contested election next time around are skeptical of the pitch “Hey voters! We bring you new taxes! Vote for us!” Can’t imagine why.
• Highway tolls, new taxes could help alleviate gridlock: report [National Post]
• To avoid transit disaster, GTA needs road tolls and taxes now: report [Toronto Star]
• A call for tolls [Toronto Sun]
• Time To Get Serious: Reliable Funding for GTHA Transit/Transportation Infrastructure [TCSA]
6 thoughts on “Toronto road tolls go from abhorrent to approved: how’d that happen?”
The only way I’d be FOR toll roads, is if and when the TTC ran 24/7, and had more subway/LRT routes. I usually take transit to work, no question, but when I’m going out with a few friends and we’re out late; sometimes transit just doesn’t cut it.
Parking is already completely ridiculous in this city. Most people who are living in Toronto come from smaller towns where they’d never dream of paying more than a couple dollars for parking. If the prices increase, people will be upset, and green P as well as parking garages will lose their shirts. Surface parking won’t see as much business, and so all those condo’s that ALWAYS end up on ex-parking lots will never see the light of day. Less places to live = higher real estate costs.
Maybe instead of toll roads, they can make toll lanes. basically like a carpool lane. No one will pay for what they’ve already used for YEARS for free. It’s like reducing the speed limit from 80km/h to 60km/h. No one takes it seriously for years, until subdivisions are built. You want to give us toll roads? Pave us some new ones and then come talk to us.
Torontonians already have a tax when we renew our license plates, which they have NO WHERE ELSE IN CANADA…and they want to add more taxes? Like the HST and the upped gas prices aren’t hurting our wallets enough.
Saving the environment is awesome, but forcing a young man or woman who only makes minimum wage off the road like this just isn’t right.
Please enough with nex taxes and tolls. Our family can hardly get by as it is! Reduce spending in government, become more efficient, increase business and econonmy, but please no road tolls!
Sorry wait… Who’s in favour of tolls? This story doesn’t appear to explain that. Or if it does, I can’t figures it out.
Tolls are just a way for little cyclist bitches to get back at people with cars because they’re jealous they can’t afford one.
Tolls? for OUR roads? are they really worth a toll? have you seen our roads theyre garbage. holes, patched here there and more potholes, uneven pavements. ya but theyre going to charge a toll? Who exactly is in favor of these tolls? You weren’t very specific. That counts! Isnt it bad enough the govt sprang an extra tax on us when we go get our stickers renewed? That alone was disgusting and sneaky and oh what a surprise! Now you want us to pay for tolls? how about you make a highway which runs with the current highways, and make that a toll so the people who are in favor of paying tolls can.
Whenever I read the comments section about a story regarding road tolls for the GTA, I feel like I’ve stepped into kindergarten. The level of debate is incredibly immature and uninformed.
Case-in-point, JJ’s latest gem: “Tolls are just a way for little cyclist bitches to get back at people with cars because they’re jealous they can’t afford one.”
I’m obviously fine with people having their own opinions on this issue, but If this is the juvenile mindset folks are bringing to the table, than we as a city are doomed to slide further down the tubes in terms of traffic.
I don’t have a problem with people opposing road tolls on an informed, rational basis, but the problem is that nearly all of the arguments against road tolls have their central facts completely wrong, or are just based on an emotional gut reaction to the thought of them.
Case in point, RRP: “Now you want us to pay for tolls? how about you make a highway which runs with the current highways, and make that a toll so the people who are in favor of paying tolls can.”
If you had bothered to think this one through, you’d realize that there is no financially feasible way to build another highway from the 905 into the downtown. There is no more open/under-used space left to build on – you would have to expropriate land from homes, parks, and condos – meaning you would have to pay the market value of those properties, and knock them down. One kilometre of new highway in the downtown core could cost several billion dollars – where is the money for that going to come from? . . .
Exactly! – this is what I’m talking about – people are just irrationally opposed and are throwing out whatever pops into their head, they haven’t done their homework which is why they don’t realize a simple truth: “YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR” if you want less congestion on the roads, you have to pay for it.
They’ll even contradict their own deeply held ideology . . . ie – road tolls aren’t taxes – they’re user-fees. Conservatives usually love user fees – they love the idea of the services the government does provide being paid for by those who use them. ie – swimming lessons should be paid for by the user, not the taxpayer. But they suddenly become socialists when it comes to road tolls . . . Why? Maybe their commitment to free-market economics ends when they happen to be the “User” who’s paying the fee . . .
One last point, Rob: “Saving the environment is awesome, but forcing a young man or woman who only makes minimum wage off the road like this just isn’t right.”
I’d like to point out what should be obvious – and that is that unless you live with your parents, you can’t afford a car, gas and insurance on a minimum wage salary to begin with – the VAST majority of people who are on minimum wage USE PUBLIC TRANSIT. Road user fees to improve transit and reduce road congestion will also have the effect of lowering transit fees, which will significantly help out the poor in this city.
Again – you guys need to get your facts straight on this. If you’re going to be so adamantly opposed to road user fees, than do your homework, otherwise your responses just look like emotional responses based on pure, unadulterated selfishness and short-sightedness.
It’s quite counter-productive to your own livelihood – after all, if things are bad now, and you won’t support any solutions that aren’t based in some fantasy-land, and we do nothing – what will the situation be like in 10 years? 20? . . .
It’s still cheaper to drive down and park for a couple of hours than it is to take the TTC and the bus north of Steeles Avenue. If you really want to fund transit, then tolls may off-set the cost of transit so at least there is a better incentive not to drive and park. The time spent on transit still is way too long compared to driving, especially if you aren’t going into the core along the subway routes, even if you are sitting on the DVP at the 401 bottleneck! Dropping the price of transit to near zero to compete with the convenience of driving and parking is likely the only way you’d get more people to take transit. In our neck of the woods, the kids call our bus service ‘Freeva’ instead of Viva because it is payment on the honour system…perhaps they are onto something! Free transit…and cars on tolls…hmmm…
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