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Would you support a fuel tax increase to repair Canadian roads?

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. - A recent report by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission may have drivers in the US paying as much as 40 cents more per gallon in fuel taxes to he...





BOWMANVILLE, Ont. – A recent report by the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission may have drivers in the US paying as much as 40 cents more per gallon in fuel taxes to help fund infrastructure improvements.

A mere month later, an unrelated Ontario-based study, put together by an alliance composed of management and labour groups in the construction industry, called for a range of new municipal taxes – including road tolls and fuel taxes – in order to fund road and public transit systems, reduce traffic congestion and cut greenhouse gas emissions in the province.

Included in the study is a suggestion that tolls should be higher for vehicles that cause relatively more road damage, travel longer distances, travel in peak-demand hours, and/or produce higher emissions, meaning long-haul truck drivers would likely experience the highest tolls (for the full story, see this month’s cover).

But would truckers stand for such an increase?

Truck News stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to see if drivers would be willing to pay more for fuel if they could be guaranteed a smooth ride.

Joe Lytle, an owner/operator with Buckham Transport in Peterborough, Ont., said he wouldn’t be in favour of an increase in taxes because it would put a lot of smaller companies out of business.

When asked where the government should looking for funding to pay for infrastructure upgrades, he simply said, “That’s their problem.”

Joe Bradley, a driver with Summertime Express in Mississauga, Ont., said he would be for an increase “because some of the roads are just terrible.”

However, the 25-year veteran admits he wouldn’t be willing to pay much more than 10 cents extra per litre.

Darren Tryan, a driver with XTL Transport based out of Toronto, says that competitively it wouldn’t make much of a difference if the US raised federal fuel taxes because Canada is paying more than the US for fuel right now anyways.

He also said a 40 cent per gallon increase like the one proposed by the US commission would be unnecessary in Canada, because US roads are so much worse.

“In Canada, we actually have good roads,” he says. “We know how to build roads up here.”

Lyle Priddle, a 44-year veteran driver with Cambridge, Ont.-based Challenger Motor Freight, says imposing additional taxes probably won’t do much other than kill the economy.

“I don’t think it’s going to make the roads any safer,” he said, adding that well-cared for US roads often become privatized anyways.

“The truckers will pay the extra no matter what and it will get passed right down to the consumer.”

Bill Foley, a driver for Detox Environmental in Bowmanville, Ont., says a big surge in fuel costs in the US alone could hurt crossborder trucking.

That aside, he thinks truck drivers already pay enough money towards fuel taxes.

“How much more can they take from us? There’s no money really to be made in the trucking industry anyway,” he admits.

“They keep taking more money from us, the trucking industry, because they know they can.”


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