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May 03, 2021

Is it time for more toll roads in Canada's biggest cities?

Even though quite common in the United States, tollbooth is a four-letter word to most Canadian motorists.

The underlying idea is simple enough – if roads are considered "free," then motorists won't use them wisely. A toll on the major highways during peak hours will make us think more about living closer to work, telecommuting or travelling the highways at non-peak times

And this view seems to be gaining traction.

The majority of urban drivers say they're willing to pay for alternatives to commuting on congested roads five days a week, according to a new study of GTA drivers who face a daily commute of at least 30 minutes each way.

While well over half of the drivers were willing to pay a road toll, sales tax or parking fee, 69 per cent said they would be more supportive if they knew the funds would go directly to expanding rapid transit in the region.

The survey also found that drivers would choose rapid transit or telecommuting if those options existed, and would leave the car at home if they could purchase car insurance on a pay-as-you-drive basis.

Creating more toll roads would shift congestion onto smaller roads as drivers try to avoid paying, say critics. In Toronto, extending the subway, increasing GO service and boosting carpooling with HOV lanes would be better options.

Or you could do both.

Ultimately, accepting road tolls involves both a mind shift among drivers and taxpayers, and a display of will by politicians. Where do you stand?

If you live in a major city, would you mind paying a toll? If so, how much per trip?Or would you simply change routes?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...