Friday 7 October 2011

Toronto debates adding toll lane to existing highway

Toronto is well known to tolling professionals as being the site of the highly successful 407-ETR toll road. Leased to a private consortium, it was the first fully electronic free flow toll road in the world. You may think that Toronto may be fairly open to more tolling, even tolling new lanes.

According to Inside Toronto, the Deputy Mayor of Toronto City, Doug Holyday has been promoting widening the Don Valley Parkway and tolling for the additional lanes.

“Holyday argued that if the city was going to toll a road, the Don Valley Parkway made the most sense because one would only do so by building additional capacity - and that the private sector might be able to cover the cost of widening the road.”

However, the proposal was rejected by the council.

What a pity. It at least deserved some investigation into whether it would be financially viable. Building new toll lanes could theoretically mean the lanes might pay for themselves, but most importantly, it means those benefiting the most, pay for it. An economic argument can be made for the lanes to not have to be fully funded by the toll, as other users of the road benefit from some users paying to use the toll lanes instead of the existing lanes. In fact, the principle is little different from a brand new road.

If a city can’t even agree to new capacity being tolled, it is difficult to see how it would even consider congestion pricing.

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