Courier group pulling vehicles from 407 (May 08, 2002)

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TORONTO, Ont. — The refusal of the Ontario government to protect road users from excessive tolling on Hwy. 407, has led courier companies back to more traditional routes.

The Canadian Courier and Messenger Association (CCMA) says one of its large member companies has already decided to pull its vehicles off the 407 and there are indications more will follow.

It warns this direction will adversely impact motorists who do not use the toll route, because trucks will now revert to using highways such as the 401, thereby adding to the already serious congestion problem.

Given the excessive toll rate increases implemented since 1999, the CCMA is urging the government to rein in the 407 owners to ensure price gouging on the ETR ceases.

In a formal document dated Apr. 13, 1999, issued as part of the sale of Hwy. 407, the Ontario government led the public to believe it would retain control over toll rate increases when it stated: “Tolls can be adjusted by two per cent per year plus inflation for the first 15 years, and thereafter by inflation only. This would mean that tolls could increase by about three cents per kilometer over the first 15 years.”

The CCMA insists this is not the case and holds up 2002’s 92 per cent increase for certain commercial trucks and automobiles — that’s more than 16 cents per kilometer.

This followed on the heels of the 2001 increases, which were between 38 to 50 per cent for other trucks and automobiles.

The CCMA has discovered that as long as the traffic flow on the 407 during peak hours is above the low threshold level established by the Ontario government, the owners of the 407 can raise toll rates as much as they want.

“Why has the Ontario government allowed the owners of such a vital highway to gouge motorists by raising toll rates at will?” asks Phil Cahley, executive director of the CCMA. “Since Hwy. 407 is now an unregulated monopoly, who is looking out for the interests of Ontario motorists, transportation providers and other residents who rely upon that highway?”

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