Last week, Toronto mayor John Tory announced plans to introduce toll roads for the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, two major highways that bring thousands of commuters in and out of the city everyday. As most Kingstonians are probably aware, traffic in and out of Toronto can be down right terrible, adding endless minutes and sometimes even hours of travel for those trying to get into or through Canada’s largest city. The long lines of stopped traffic leave cars idling, wasting fuel and adding to air pollution. The $2 toll would go towards transit and infrastructure projects in the GTA by raising close to $200 million per year.
While some see the fee as a drop in the bucket – after all, many of us spend more than that on our daily cup of coffee – it can add a lot of pressure to some wallets. $2 per day, twice a day adds up quickly, taking close to $1000 per year from the pockets of hard working commuters. That being said, a big part of this proposed change is to strengthen public transit and encourage more people to use it, saving commuters gas money and time.
Many cities all over the world have toll roads. On a recent visit to Chicago, I was stopped about 5 times on my way into the city to pay tolls. This system can slow traffic down significantly, however, many other options for payment are in place in other cities. Toronto’s privately owned 407 for example, uses high speed cameras to charge users and therefore causes no stopping or slowing of traffic. In addition to increasing fuel economy, toll roads can actually improve traffic flow and safety because they often lead to fewer cars on the road. Considering both the pros and cons of toll roads, this week we want to know:
Should Kingston introduce toll roads to some of our major routes?
- No. (83%, 670 Votes)
- Yes. (17%, 139 Votes)
- Maybe. I'll tell you more in the comments. (0%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 811
Looking around YGK, it stands to reason that the province could potentially introduce a toll on our stretch of the 401, on the LaSalle Causeway or on the possible future third crossing. A toll on our bridges may not go over so well at first (I personally cross the causeway at least 5-10 times per week) but the potential gain is also something to be considered. More money coming in to improve public transit in Kingston would allow more commuters to leave the car at home. On the other hand, many would argue that we already pay enough in taxes and that should be where it ends. What about the stretch of the 401 that passes through Kingston? It is a highly used thoroughfare, taking travelers in and out of major cities in Southern Ontario. A small fee prescribed to those users could help reduce taxes in the long run.
With governments finding it harder and harder to pay for the things we need, pay-per-use initiatives such as tolls are becoming more and more prevalent, albeit contentious. What do you think? Should Kingston consider adding tolls to some of our roads? What would it mean for you if you had to shell out to cross the river or to leave town on a trip to Montreal or Toronto?
Photo credit to Lindsay Kincade.