MONTREAL, Que. – The head of the Quebec Trucking Association (QTA) is calling on governments to create a uniform standard for electronic tolling, using the opening of the province’s new Montreal bypass as an illustration of the current discrepancies that exist from one jurisdiction to another.
The A-30 Express, the long-awaited bypass that routes non-Montreal-bound traffic around the city’s south shore – and which is a toll road – opened Dec. 15.
“They all work on independent systems,” said Marc Cadieux, president of the Association du Camionnage du Quebec. “We do not have a unified system for the carriers in the industry.”
Cadieux was pointing to the fact that even in Quebec, the two existing toll routes – the A-30 Express and the A-25 bridge which serves Montreal’s north shore suburbs – have different tolling systems. That’s on top of the fact Quebec has not seen fit to integrate its tolling with the American E-ZPass system, which serves 14 states, he said.
“Obviously we weren’t listened to,” after having made representations on the matter to Quebec government officials as well as the private consortium which operates the A-30, Cadieux said.
Cadieux pointed to the irony of having two transponders for roads that are only “a few kilometres” apart.
“As you know, our industry always wants to minimize our operating costs,” he said. “To deal with so many systems, to equip the trucks with the transponders, not only to buy the transponders and install them and then you have to manage many accounts.”
Quebec Transport Ministry spokeswoman Caroline Larose said in fact the A-25 and A-30 transponders will be compatible by summer.
“We did our best to get those two systems working before the opening of A-30,” she said. “We weren’t able but it will be done as soon as possible and our schedule is by next summer.”
The federal government is planning to build a new Champlain Bridge connecting the city to the south shore and Larose said bridge tolls would also be compatible with one single transponder.
“We’ll make sure the toll system used by the Champlain Bridge is working with the A-30 and the A-25,” she said. But linking the Quebec transponder with the US E-ZPass system is quite another matter.
Larose said Transports Quebec “would have needed to get approval with all the states – each state one by one.”
Denis Leonard, CEO of the A-30 Express private consortium, says the company’s tolling technology is “one of the most sophisticated” in the world and could be synchronized with other systems but would require government approval.
“We all rely on the transport minister for any integration,” he said.
But this lack of coordination just underlines the fact governments, which are increasingly moving towards more tolling, aren’t developing a continent-wide integrated system, said Cadieux.
“Why haven’t they thought about having a grand unified system and obviously pre-existing systems should have been used as carriers are already inscribed in those systems, their accounts are already open, what is it to put one more road within the system?” he said.
The A-30 runs from Vaudreuil-Dorion to Chateauguay, over a distance of 35 kilometres. Trucks from Ottawa would connect to it from the A-40, and those from Hwy. 401 and A-20, at Vaudreuil-Dorion. On the bypass’s east side, traffic can easily connect to the A-20 or Trans-Canada Highway to travel to eastern Quebec and the Maritimes.
The four-lane road expands to seven lanes at the tolling station located between the Soulanges Canal and St. Lawrence River.
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