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Enthusiastic about the 407ETR?

So Ontario SuperBuild now believes that commercial truck owners are "becoming enthusiastic" about the 407ETR. That certainly caught me by surprise. Just about every fleet owner I've talked to since th...

So Ontario SuperBuild now believes that commercial truck owners are “becoming enthusiastic” about the 407ETR. That certainly caught me by surprise. Just about every fleet owner I’ve talked to since the 407ETR was built has been quick to say he doesn’t want his trucks running on there. I wonder what would have changed their minds?

Could it be the bargain pricing? Well, I know truck owners were quite upset with the difference in pricing between passenger and commercial vehicles right from the start. In fact, 407ETR’s commercial vehicle rates are still high enough to cause Ontario Trucking Association President David Bradley to comment that the “vast majority of the for-hire trucking industry is still extremely displeased with the exorbitant toll rates.” So rates can’t be the drawing card.

Maybe it’s the excellent customer service. Only, personal experience leads me to question that as a drawing card too. Don’t get me wrong, the 407ETR’s customer service agents are nice enough when you get them on the phone – problem is you can wait for close to an hour to speak to them sometimes. And then there’s that slightly annoying inconvenience of receiving bills in your name and with your licence plate number, but for trips you never made. The first time that happened to me, I just figured I was scatter brained enough that I might have forgotten getting on a portion of the highway I had no real reason to be on and getting off at an exit nowhere near any of my usual destinations. But when it happened again on an occasion when I was actually at a conference when the bill was claiming I was on the highway, I knew something was up. I definitely knew something was amiss when after selling my car to a garage and removing the plates I was still receiving 407ETR bills for trips I was supposedly making with that same car and those plates. Even though the car had been taken apart for parts and the plates were sitting in my basement!

Now I know that no scanning technology can be 100 percent accurate. And I wouldn’t have been as upset with the recurring situation if 407ETR didn’t have the ridiculous rule of requiring you to dispute their invoice in writing within 30 days. Just doesn’t seem right that you could be minding your own business and all of a sudden you get an invoice from a company whose services you didn’t use and now the onus is on you to prove them wrong, again and again. And if you don’t do it on their schedule, there’s fines to pay. They’re even willing to send you to a collection agency over a $10 charge.

I only bring this up because I wonder if I, with my “fleet” of just three vehicles, can get screwed up with 407ETR’s billing system, what would happen to a truck fleet owner with 50 or 100 rigs using the 407ETR on a regular basis? Of course, it could be that my problem was that one-in-a-million example and motor carriers are receiving excellent customer service from 407ETR. But then what would cause OTA President Bradley to rate the highway’s customer service as “poor” and, in a letter to Ontario SuperBuild President David Lindsay, state that “this negative perception is no small part a response to the stated attitudes of the highway’s owners towards trucks… 407ETR has consistently shown no interest in working with the trucking industry to resolve outstanding issues in order to facilitate truck traffic.” Well, based on that it’s safe to assume customer service isn’t the drawing card either.

What about hassle-free commuting? Only problem with that is the 407ETR’s insistence that commercial vehicles be equipped with transponders or face fines, even though there’s no such demand for passenger vehicles.

Of course, if you’re willing to pay the extra cost involved, the obvious drawing card could be the escape from the usual highway congestion. But then again even the 407ETR can have traffic jams at rush hour (perhaps they should give a refund in those cases?)

Well, I give up. If any of our readers know why carriers are, according to Ontario SuperBuild anyway, “becoming enthusiastic” about the 407ETR, please enlighten me.

Lou Smyrlis, MCILT Editor


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