Ontario: Drivers Already Paying a Toll for Ontario Roads, Study Finds

Update:

A new study says Ontario drivers are paying the bulk of road infrastructure costs, to the tune of more than $7.5 billion a year.
A new study says Ontario drivers are paying the bulk of road infrastructure costs, to the tune of more than $7.5 billion a year.  And those in the Toronto-Hamilton area are paying about $1 billion more in fees and taxes than the annual cost of construction, maintenance and policing.  The Conference Board of Canada says Ontario road users driving cars, minivans, SUVs and light pickup trucks are paying 70 to 90 per cent of the costs of the road through fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and tolls.

Research commissioned by CAA finds GTA drivers are paying more in gas taxes, fees and fines than governments spend on roads.

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As the province continues to debate tolling and taxing drivers to pay for new Toronto region transit and roads, the Conference Board of Canada has found that motorists are already paying plenty to use the pavement.

Across the province, drivers generate between 70 and 90 per cent of the cost of maintaining, building and policing Ontario’s roads, according to the research released Thursday.

In the Toronto region, it’s more like 137 per cent. About 40 per cent of vehicles registered in Ontario are in the Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area, said Vijay Gill, who co-authored the study, which was commissioned by the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).

For several years now, CAA has advocated for a portion of the HST collected on gas and diesel fuel sales to be allocated directly to transportation improvements and serve as one way to save motorists from further costs.
For several years now, CAA has advocated for a portion of the HST collected on gas and diesel fuel sales to be allocated directly to transportation improvements and serve as one way to save motorists from further costs. The Conference Board of Canada says Ontario road users driving cars, minivans, SUVs and light pickup trucks are paying 70 to 90 per cent of the costs of the road through fuel taxes, vehicle registration fees and tolls.

Researchers found Toronto-area drivers paid about $3.7 billion in fuel excise taxes, licensing fees, fines and other expenses, compared with $2.7 billion that governments spent on building, policing and maintaining the region’s roads.

Across Ontario, drivers generate about $7.7 billion in revenue and the province and municipalities spend between $10 billion and $13 billion on roads, said Gill.

The study doesn’t necessarily discount the need for other forms of road pricing.

“We’re just looking at total revenues and total costs. There’s a very good reason you might want to collect those revenues in a different way with more efficient types of charges,” he said.

The recommendations from Metrolinx (who operates GO Transit), the transit planning agency, include a hike in the harmonized sales tax, a five-cent-a-litre regional gas tax, a $350-million-a-year business parking levy and $100-million a year in development charges.
The recommendations from Metrolinx (who operates GO Transit), the transit planning agency, include a hike in the harmonized sales tax, a five-cent-a-litre regional gas tax, a $350-million-a-year business parking levy and $100-million a year in development charges.

The study used three methods to calculate the revenue generated by drivers of light duty vehicles — cars, pickup trucks, vans and SUVs. Researchers included only revenue that the government would lose if people drove less. So fuel excise tax was incorporated but HST was not, because people would spend that money even if they didn’t use it for gas, Gill said.

Commercial trucks and transit vehicles were separated out, as were different classes of roads, such as highways, arterials and local lanes.

Where the Rubber Meets the Road: How Much Motorists Pay for Road Infrastructure was designed to establish how much drivers are already paying, said Teresa Di Felice of the CAA South Central Ontario.

“One of the arguments we always got was, motorists are subsidized. They’re not paying their fair share . . . We really wanted to assess and validate whether that was the case or not. We didn’t think so, but we didn’t really know where the numbers fell,” she said.

The CAA supports HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes, but there’s been talk of broader tolling in Ontario, and a 5-cents-a-litre gas tax is also on the table. In addition, a commercial parking levy would probably filter down to motorists. As home buyers, motorists could also be affected by higher development charges and a 1 per cent hike in the HST.
The CAA supports HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes, but there’s been talk of broader tolling in Ontario, and a 5-cents-a-litre gas tax is also on the table. In addition, a commercial parking levy would probably filter down to motorists. As home buyers, motorists could also be affected by higher development charges and a 1 per cent hike in the HST.

That doesn’t mean that motorists don’t have a responsibility to the region’s mounting infrastructure needs, said Di Felice.

“The principle we’re talking about is: What do motorists want to see or need, if they’re going to be required to invest more?” she said.

Property of Ontario Motor Vehicle Tickets
Di Felice, who is a member of the Anne Golden panel appointed by the premier to consider Metrolinx’s recommendations on taxes to fund transit expansion, points out that “everybody wants a solution to congestion.”

The policy implications of the Conference Board research will be released in a separate report. Meantime, Di Felice says drivers are affected by all the Metrolinx revenue tools under discussion.                                                                                             Toronto Star Graphic Paying for Roads Infrastructure

The CAA supports HOT (high occupancy toll) lanes, but there’s been talk of broader tolling in Ontario, and a 5-cents-a-litre gas tax is also on the table. In addition, a commercial parking levy would probably filter down to motorists. As home buyers, motorists could also be affected by higher development charges and a 1 per cent hike in the HST.

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