TORONTO — A new transportation plan is calling for fuel tax hikes and other levies in order to put $20 billion towards transit funding in southern Ontario. While the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) is supportive of the province’s focus on addressing transit concerns, they want to see more support for highway infrastructure.
Metrolinx, the Government of Ontario agency designed to plan and execute transit projects such as subway expansions and GO Train service increases, has unveiled its much-anticipated solution to transit woes in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).
However, OTA president David Bradley says that the plan, called The Big Move, is too focused on transit and not enough on supporting highway infrastructure.
“I understand the argument that transit can help alleviate highway congestion, but it depends on whether people will actually get out of their cars and take transit,” says Bradley.
The proposal includes a list of measures that may be used to fund transportation projects in the GTHA. They include:
- • Creating a dedicated transportation trust fund. All money raised through the Metrolinx strategy would go directly to the fund;
- • A one percent HST increase (either provincially or regionally);
- • A five cent per litre tax on regionally purchased diesel and fuel;
- • A business parking levy (approximately 25 cents per spot, per day);
- • A 15 percent increase in regional development charges.
However, Bradley is also concerned about the five cent per litre tax on diesel fuel.
“There is a question whether it is fair that truckers are asked to pay for transit,” he says. “Unlike motorists, who have a choice in terms of whether to take transit or continue to drive, truckers have no such choice.”
Bradley believes there should be a highway trust fund set up similarly to the proposed transportation fund, the difference being that the highway fund should incorporate fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.
Bradley says the OTA is pleased to see further discussion on transportation issues and will play a major part in consultations with the premier about moving forward. “Gridlock is a real and growing problem in the region and the premier is to be commended for making it a priority,” he says.
Nothing has been written in stone yet; the Government of Ontario will have to decide which measures it wants to implement and how to do so in the coming months.
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