Would introducing tolls to the 400 highways push you to an alternative route?
August 1, 2010
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -Just when you thought driving a truck in Canada couldn't get any more expensive (thank you very much, HST), a Toronto-based movement is suggesting that tolls need to be introduced o...
BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -Just when you thought driving a truck in Canada couldn’t get any more expensive (thank you very much, HST), a Toronto-based movement is suggesting that tolls need to be introduced on 400-series highways to alleviate crippling congestion in the GTA.
The report, first obtained by the Toronto Star, includes 12 moneymaking schemes to get traffic moving in the region, including a 10 to 20 cent per kilometre toll on the aforementioned roads. The monies raised would go towards transit improvements -not road repairs, as some might like -with the desired by-product being reduced congestion. But is the prospect of less traffic enough to make truckers want to foot the bill? We dropped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to see what drivers think about the proposed tolls.
Laurier Croteau, an owner/operator based out of Charny, Que., says the prospect of avoiding the 400-series highways would likely be more expensive than the toll itself.
“I think it is very hard to go around because you lose too much time and spend more fuel,” he said. “The customer is going to have to pay a little more for that because everybody is going to get their stuff very late, so it would be impossible.”
Croteau even questions the claim that the tolls would reduce traffic. “The 401 here is pretty loaded and I do not think if they put any tolls on it that there is going to be less traffic on it because that is the only road between Montreal and Windsor.”
Aubrey Stewart, an owner/operator with Premiere Van Lines in Moncton, N.B., agrees with Croteau, saying that avoiding the main roads would be too time-con-suming to justify.
Stewart says if they were to implement a toll that the money would be better spent on maintaining road conditions, though his experience using toll roads in the US hasn’t left him feeling very optimistic.
“The quality (of US toll roads) is no different than what we have here and we don’t have tolls yet,” he told Truck News.
Linda Meldrum, a company driver with Harland Veinotte in Morrisburg, Ont. for just four weeks at the point of the interview, says the prospect of tolls could be damaging for both trucking companies and owner/ operators, but in her case, in the end it would be her bosses’ call.
“We do a lot of Greater Toronto Area work, so I do not know what my boss would do about that. He won’t let us on the 407. I honestly think that it would put a lot of people out of business,” she said.
Murray Zack, company driver with Wenzler Farms in Wheatley, Ont., disagrees with the proposed tolls saying that money should be taken care of via fuel taxes. “We are already paying exorbitant fuel taxes here in Ontario now, so why should we have to pay to stop again and wear our trucks out just because they want to collect money? Collect it on the fuel taxes and let everybody pay equally,” he said.
“(With the proposed tolls), they are literally saying they want people off the 400-series highways. If that is the case, then why are we building them bigger? They’re building them bigger but they don’t want us on them. It’s just a money grab is all it is. It is really, truly a money grab. Let’s face it, the fuel taxes that we’ve paid -where are those fuel taxes going to begin with? If you want to take the tolls on, take the fuel tax off.”