Are toll roads the solution to Canada's traffic woes?
A January issue of Maclean’s has been sitting in my apartment for more than half a year.
On the cover, with a big splashy title, is the reason I haven’t thrown it out: “We now spend the equivalent of 32 working days a year ... STUCK IN TRAFFIC. Our rush hours rank with the world’s worst. Here's how to fix it. By Andrew Coyne.”
Coyne, of course, is the superjournalist from a variety of media outlets, including CBC’s The National. He has my apologies for the delay in reading his piece, but this is the beauty of the Internet. Though it took me nearly eight months to actually sit down and read the feature, we can still discuss it today.
Because this baby deserves to be broken down.
I won’t make an attempt so summarize Coyne’s sprawling feature on the sad state of Canadian traffic – you can check out the entire article here – but it’s key thesis needs a forum to be discussed.
In essence, amid a flurry of graphs and cited studies and empirical real-world evidence, Coyne proves that Canada’s traffic woes have gotten so bad there’s only one way to solve them.
Certainly, he isn’t the first to suggest such a remedy, though Coyne’s contention is that we’re paying to use our nation’s roads whether we know it or not. Payment by time, payment by taxes, payment by space. Payment by going numb inside the damn car.
*Bing: Which Canadian city has the worst traffic
“The task, then, is to make those ‘external’ costs apparent to each driver,” he writes, er, wrote. “Raise the price of using the road and people will reduce their demand for it, just as they do for most other things. That makes driving more expensive, at least at first. But with less congestion, other costs fall. Not only are travel times reduced, but so are all those other ills of congestion, from accidents to pollution.”
Again, there’s no sense in trying to define Coyne’s stance in this space – the thing goes on for about 70 pages. But what can be addressed, what can be measured, is whether motorists would be willing to pay to avoid traffic.
Would you be willing to pay extra to avoid rush hour congestion if toll roads, like some want to see, were available to you? If so, what is a traffic-free commute worth to you each day? Month? Year?
By Jason Buckland, MSN Money
Posted by: Robot Man | Aug 4, 2021 11:31:18 PM
It would have taken planning to avoid traffic jams which has not existed for a number of years. We seem to be intoxicated and preoccupied with putting down people and their lifestyle at a cost
that has proven factors that can put people out of work, let people run a business with out obnoxious rules and regulations plus many other obstacles government can put in the way. Letting polls and ignorning honest questioning of research and countless studies that have been made at taxpayer expense is no way to run a country to seek solutions. We have elected people based on designed scripts that that make you wrong every time. It is time for an overhaul of civil servants who are very well paid for a job not well done and the minister jumps when the dogs bark.
Posted by: Been there seen that | Aug 5, 2021 5:15:32 PM
Toll roads certainly have eased traffic jams in other parts of the world - assuming that new, specific built roads are constructed for which the user pays.
Posted by: Tron | Aug 6, 2021 3:13:18 AM
Ya I dont know how we as people can justify paying for freedoms. People are already making less money and paying more for every day items now they want us to pay so we can avoid traffic. Probably in the name of global warming, climate change or whatever it is they call it these days
Posted by: SMOKEN GUN | Aug 6, 2021 3:14:23 AM
IN CANADA HAVING LET UNUASTAINABL number of imigrants in iI think
the gouverment who is the only one making profit out of it should pay for there own dam roads
Im gonna stawve because of it not only do these new comers cause road expation it also seems to be eating our jobs,depleating our resouses and causing
us all in canada to rely on imports .
what is going on in canada ? political crime thats what
where is robin hood when you need him?
the west coast is in trouble its canadian born are being near broke and living day to day continualy scammed by gouvernment taxing like there is no tomorrow
Posted by: 6 month less a day | Aug 6, 2021 9:45:36 AM
are we not paying for roads via taxes included in fuel prices? incompetent public employees planning for yesterday,look at Calgary,forever reacting to traffic woes ,no planning for future growth,all the money from toll roads would not help these incompetents doing the planning at city hall,all it would do is give them more money for dialog and studies,(who in their right mind would work for government when private(Oil companies) jobs pay way more? only the ones without brains and common sense are left at city halls and government,
weasel head is a great example,they kick this thing around for 40 years,nobody has the guts to make a decision,anybody residing south sits in traffic,idling and polluting,still no solution,or to expensive,
just arrived back from a trip to europe,they seem to be able to tunnel for miles,what is wrong with that? should have been done years ago.
Posted by: DianeA33 | Aug 6, 2021 10:30:13 AM
As Sixmonthlessaday says,
Don't we pay taxes, and if we're to discuss the immigrants, it's so true what they are doing to our economy, I don't hate these people; but, I'm sure they wouldn't let us invade their country like they do ours. It takes forever to get in there if at all. Watched at every move. Imprisoned for NO reasons that we can defend, it's no wonder they'e all coming here. They have money, don't worry, but as immigrants they do profit from our moneys...And one thing is on my mind. Maybe someone can induce their opinion . I live in the country, don'tt have anything to do with the streets of Montreal unless for a specialist in hospital for my eyes every few years. I JUST WANT TO KNOW.
Why should I pay more for gas, and pay the extra on taxes when I don't go in the city. I'm talking in general for anyone who soesn't need or GO inot the damn city,.we still have to pay for taxes, and pay the same amount gas as people who do use the city streets.
I could see paying at directed toll booths as we did in the late 70-80's. You pay as you go... Doesn't that make more sense, to pay for when you DO go into the city, I remember when we had to pay as you go. The roads were much better, and never heard anyone say a word. WHY? Because it made sense. Now, OUR gov't makes millions if not billions over by charging EVERYBODY, ANYWHERE AND EVERYWHERE... Where's the LOGIC in all this. When and where will it end???
If England and many Metropole and tunnel cities do it in Europe ( charge a fee to get in and out of the city every day they go in there, Hoe difficult can it be for here. I've been to England. To enter the city, at the time it cost me 5.00$ in, same out...I can't see why these same differences can't be applied here. everyone would be thinking logickly. I hope and wish Mr Harper reads this. and even Mr Charest does too...Think about it for a minute...Oh and when you get on a major highway in USA, YOU do pay at toll booths for so many mile driven on them...AS YOU GO
Posted by: CuckholdDon | Aug 6, 2021 10:51:11 AM
Toll roads Hmmm
If we hadn't been paying for useless wars-not giving tax breaks to those who have the most disposable income-building sports stadiums&sports facilities (for professional sports)(& other unnessarry things we probably would not be talking about this!
Coyone's-is wealthy enough that he would like only well off folk "DRIVING"!His kind of people!
I really think it's that SIMPLE!
Posted by: 6 month less a day | Aug 6, 2021 11:18:49 AM
exactly right useless wars under the disguise of preserving our "freedom",slogans dreamed up by useless bureaucrats to spend more of our money,building libraries and centres for the arts,piece bridges for millions of dollars,stadiums etc.as you are pointing out , all useless stuff for 80percent of the population,let people who use these facilities pay for them,what about removing the traffic lights just north of highway one on Stoney trail so people who make an honest living can get to work without getting stuck in traffic,or worse getting killed
I am not a poor working stiff,don't have to be anywhere at a specific time,however most of my fellow citizens and friends don't have the luxury,they have to be at work on time etc.
I can afford to pay to use a library,sports stadium,or going to the arts, I don't need more government handouts,lets live within our means so the average person has a chance without being tolled to get from A to B
Posted by: Tax Payer | Aug 6, 2021 12:22:33 PM
If Canadian highways are going to be toll highways,that's fine,but the price I pay in taxes should reflect the change. Toll highways,lower taxes.
Have you ever checked out the toll highways in the U.S.? Driving on goat paths is better.
Posted by: taxed to death | Aug 6, 2021 1:04:10 PM
im tired of paying for past mistakes our leaders make.we are taxed to death in ont. and yet the government wants more.how about not giving yourselves a raise for the next few years in order to pay for better highways.if the ont. government did a little maintaintenance instead of waiting for everything to fall apart we wouldnt have half the problems we do now.
Posted by: bilabao | Aug 6, 2021 1:08:55 PM
Using the 407 ETR as an example to prove his point is laughable. The 407 ETR was built with over $100 billion dollars in taxpayers money and was meant to be a public highway. It was sold as a quick budget fix and that sale severely hampered Ontario's productivity. The 407 ETR has become nothing more than a road for the wealthy and remains empty for 95% of the day while the 401 remains packed. What author is suggests is a world where only the wealthy have access to fast and efficient transportation on certian that is payed for the middle and lower class???
The 407 ETR would have never been made, if it was a strictly private project or if it had to be funded only though tolls, want to care how much the tolls on a $100 billion dollar road that did not have public backing of some form?
If the public pays for a road than those taxpayers should all have equal access. What the author of article is proposing is class warfare.
The authorr's dismisal of the gax tax is also another lauable point. Gasoline is a consumption tax, the act of using gasoline effectively pays for your usage of the road at that moment and it has the added benefit of not discriminating like a flat tax toll does. If you drive a less efficient, heavier or car that pollutes more you will use more gas, pay more in gas taxes and those gas taxes effectively pay for you usage of the road at that time you drive your ca because you only use gas when a car is running!!! The only problem with current gas taxes is they go into the general revenue and do not get devoted to infrastructure, politicians for to long have used gas tax money to pay for other public projects and have negelected infrastructure.
Posted by: dman | Aug 6, 2021 2:31:45 PM
Perhaps this remedy to traffic congestion seems a little simplistic. I am a forced commuter from the Niagara region and have noticed how free trade and global free trade has multiplied the highway commuters. Because there are no decent paying jobs(i.e. manufacturing jobs,especially here in Welland) it seems everyone has to travel to the bigger centers to work. If tariffs were reintroduced on imported goods you would see far more local employment again, far less commuter traffic, far better quality of life, far less pollution, etc, etc. Toll highways? how idiotic. Propose a remedy, not another tax.
Posted by: L.C. | Aug 6, 2021 2:36:13 PM
the person who says toll roads will solve the problem are stupid
Posted by: K.T. | Aug 6, 2021 7:17:39 PM
Agreed. When I pay 40% of my paycheck to income tax not to mention the tax on the fuel and everything else I buy and the roads I drive on are still crap I wouldnt even slow down if they put a toll booth in. Far as Im concerned whoever manages the governments finances should be canned and then publicly tarred and feathered.
Posted by: andy | Aug 7, 2021 12:01:35 AM
will toll roads help? an interesting question, might i remind everyone that we have a toll road in ontario the 407. the toll road that we paid for, and are still paying for but the government sold it to an out of country consordium. so all the toll money goes to them, and we pay to police it, plow the snow, etc. not only that if you don't pay your toll the won't renew you driver's licence. so are toll roads the answer. not as long as we have moron's incharge.
Posted by: Heather | Aug 13, 2021 9:44:52 PM
I agree with SMOKEN GUN, the canadian government is putting immigrants before its own people.
they honestly wonder why so many canadians are unemployed? because they are giving all the jobs to immigrants first. my sister has been looking for a job for 4 years.
Posted by: Sic*and*Tired | Aug 16, 2021 11:05:43 AM
I think whoever came up with the idea of road tolls in Canada is a complete moron. We pay gas taxes which at the time they were implemented the government told the people it would be used to pay for transit and roads/highway development. Now because the government allows all the gas tax money to go into general coffers instead of keeping it separate and in its own coffer there is no control on where that money goes. We as the people of canada should demand that the money from gas taxes go to building transit and road/ highway projects. If the money from gas taxes went strictly to those projects there would be more than enough money to make even the transcanada highway a 6 lane highway from one end of the country to another. We are like lambs we roll over instead demanding the government to use the taxes collected from gas/oil sales used for what it was intended for. So I am totally against tolls on any roads. I have a 407 transponder and I am outraged on what I have to pay to make a trip to my brothers compared to what was charged when the government owned it and ran it. I am still against tolls.