A quick scan might miss this:
…evidence from road-pricing experiments is that the revenue gathered from tolled lanes often fails to cover the costs of even collecting the tolls and operating the toll-collection system—which means they never come close to paying for the roadway. (To be sure, tolling improves the efficiency of use of the freeway—traffic flows more smoothly, capacity is increased—but the tolls don’t pay for constructing, or even maintaining, the pavement). But again, the highly visible toll-collection mechanism, like the very visible gas tax, creates the illusion that user fees are paying the cost of the system.
Recognizing that traffic was one of the hottest political topics, the newly elected federal Liberals ran on a platform that included the promise of major infrastructure spending. Their plan includes billions for transit, but this report warns that such improvements will not be enough.
“On its own, more public transit may not reduce traffic congestion in the long run because it does not solve the key incentive problem,” argues the report from the Ecofiscal Commission, whose advisory board includes figures as diverse as Paul Martin, Preston Manning and Bob Rae. “Without addressing the fundamental issue of misaligned incentives around free access to roads, traffic congestion in Canadian cities will only get worse.”
Five “congestion pricing” models looked at in the study:
— Single-entity pricing: The most common form of pricing, toll roads, bridges or tunnels charge a fee to use a specific piece of infrastructure. (Example: Highway 407 in Ontario)
— High-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes: Designating a new or existing highway lane for multi-occupant vehicles only, which pay a fee for the privilege of travelling in a less congested lane. (Example: Minnesota)
— Zone-based pricing: Charging a fee to use designated roads within a geographic zone, typically major city core areas. (Examples: Stockholm, London, Milan, Singapore)
— Distance-travelled charges: Typically fees are levied on all vehicles on all roads in a given region, varying in cost depending on distance, time, direction and location. (Example: Oregon pilot projects)
— Parking pricing: Variable parking pricing structures depending on time, location and mode of transport (Examples: San Francisco, Calgary)