The so-called rich folks who own cars are about to get poorer.
Teresa Di Felice, director of government and community relations for the CAA, said the income levels of drivers shouldn’t be a factor in the DVP/Gardiner tolling debate.
“These are people who are making sacrifices in other places because they feel that they have no other choice but to drive,” Di Felice said.
The CAA already pegs the annual cost of operating a modest mid-size vehicle which is driven 20,000 kilometres a year at $10,336 — not counting the purchase price, any interest charges or HST.
As of Jan. 1, a 4.3-cents-a-litre carbon tax — plus HST — hits gasoline in Ontario.
And city council has just approved road tolls which could add up to $1,000 a year or more to the cost of commuting into the downtown once implemented, which is a few years down the road.
One of the questions raised during the debate is whether drivers are paying their fair share of the cost of maintaining roads and highways.
Di Felice said the CAA came up with a “very conservative” estimate of how much motorists pay in vehicle registration fees, fuel taxes and the like, and estimated that they cover about 70-80% of the infrastructure across Ontario in 2010.
“When you looked at the City of Toronto and the Greater Toronto-Hamilton area, it was over 100% of the current costs of maintaining and operating the roads (that) could be funded just from these specific taxes alone,” Di Felice said. “In 2010, I think it was about $7 billion.”
Most of that money goes to the federal and provincial levels of government, about $1.7 billion to the municipality, she said.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federations says Canadian governments collected $21.5 billion in fuel taxes in 2013, $16.2 billion from gasoline and $5.3 billion from diesel.
In Ontario, a litre of gasoline includes a 10-cent federal tax, 14.7-cent provincial fuel tax and 13% federal-provincial HST on each litre of gasoline — more than double the taxes on American gasoline.
The CAA doesn’t have a position on tolling the DVP and Gardiner but notes that the transit option isn’t realistic for many drivers, no matter how much it costs to operate a motor vehicle.
Tolling could make congestion worse: Expert
A flat toll on Toronto’s highways could actually make congestion worse, traffic scholar Baher Abdulhai says.
Tolling of Toronto’s highways is “inevitable” but works best if drivers are charged more to travel during peak times, known as dynamic tolling, the University of Toronto professor said.
If city council proceeds with a flat $2 fee, then drivers can expect even more traffic snarls as many try to divert to city arterial streets to avoid paying, he said.
If transportation authorities were to implement dynamic tolls on the Gardiner Expressway, Don Valley Parkway and Hwy. 401 in the GTA, motorists on toll roads would save 12,457 hours during the morning rush, Abdulhai said in an e-mail.
“On the Gardiner Eastbound in the morning peak, for example, tolling would start at 7 a.m. at three cents per kilometre, increase up to 15 cents per kilometre at 8 a.m. and gradually go down to zero at 9:30 a.m.,” he said. “This dynamic tolling would reduce the highest travel time by 38% from approximately 28 minutes down to 17 minutes.
“Flat tolling on the other hand of approximately 11 cents per kilometre ($2 for the full length) would cause travel times on the Gardiner Expressway eastbound itself to deteriorate, because traffic rerouting to Lake Shore would back up onto the Gardiner between the 427 and the Humber, blocking and delaying motorists, including toll payers, from progressing. This is the risk with flat tolls.”
Tolling done correctly would save time for commuters, while generating needed funds for infrastructure, he said.
But Abdulhai, who is the director of U of T’s Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) Centre, does not see a big shift to transit use with highway tolling, expecting less than 1% of motorists to make the switch because the TTC doesn’t have enough capacity.
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Source: Toronto Sun