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Thread: Road tolls - yay or nay?

  1. #1
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    Default Road tolls - yay or nay?

    Jaerdo and the rest of you: Rather than derailing every road construction thread into a debate about implementing tolls on every road and highway, please discuss it here, please and thank you.

    My take on tolls is that they are OK as long as there's a non-toll alternative. Putting a toll on Hwy 63 is OK because if you don't wanna pay it then use Hwy 881.

    But the problem is, how much will a toll system cost? If you put in booths, how much will that cost to build and staff? How much would it cost to implement an automated tolling system that's now on the new Port Mann Bridge?
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  2. #2

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    Toll roads are NOT ok.

    The proper place for all revenues is in the general taxation. User fees are a crappy idea.

    Why? Because in a very deep way the provision of public services is a lot like insurance payouts -- with certain forms of insurance, such as health and automotive, being mandatory.

    Everyone pays in and the service is then available on a universal basis.

    It has been proven over and over that due to the volume purchase the total costs are actually cheaper than in the per-user, per-service instance model.

  3. #3

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    I'm good for toll roads. Users pay. This is done in many other jurisdictions and countries with great effect.

    Wanting everything to come out of general revenue is not realistic. And it's not fair. This assumes that twinning of this highway is a provincial priority, which not all taxpayers may agree with. That we would fund multi-billion dollar project like this over, say, new hospitals, or LRT.

    But I love discussing this kind of thing and think it is worthy of further consideration or debate one way or another.
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    In the right context, I'm in favour of tolls and even P3 highways. Besides pay-per-use and better proportional taxation, I think it would lead to building better infrastructure and building it faster.

    That said, toll highways are politically unpalateable and a future government would almost certainly reverse it. Once the Canadian electorate gets used to "free" services and infrastructure, it's really hard to take that away from them.

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    We just went through the Port Mann Bridge and the cost is $3 if you pay before 7 days from the time of transit after it is $5 I believe.

    They have a bank of cameras on the south side of the bridge and read your plate then. You can then go online and pay it if you wish.

    Personally I believe in tolls for road improvement purposes. In fact QE2 should be tolled as that route needs major improvement.

  6. #6

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    Also, I think cities get screwed by public transportation funding. The province and feds spends billions of dollars building infrastructure for communities that total up to be a 1/10 of our size and economic clout, and makes the cities beg for the same funding.

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    There are many routes people can take in a city like Edmonton. Toll roads would have limited effectiveness.
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    I think it is good to have a topic for toll roads. Despite their immediate unpopularity, I think they will grow on people when the actual reasoning behind it is learned, and the huge benefit they offer to solving our financial problems is realized.

    First off a response:

    I do not believe we need to offer free options for roads. We do not offer free options for airplanes. We do not offer free options for trains. We do not offer free alternatives for buying clothes, computers, televisions, or bicycles. If you want to utilize a good or service, you should pay for what you use.

    Secondly, my argument for toll roads:

    1) Political / ethical: I disagree that we should subsidize the use of things that have net negative impacts on society. Perhaps the net negative impact could be argued, but in my mind roads are the source of huge social, environmental, and economic costs on society. This makes subsidization of roads a perverse incentive. I would rather people pay directly for roads such that they are not subsidizing net negative programs they do not personally consume. Pay for what you use, don't pay for what you don't use. Toll roads (and the benefit principle) are more fiscally conservative.

    2) Growth patterns: subsidized roads cause urban sprawl. People choose their location based on an equilibrium point between housing cost/benefit and commute cost/benefit. Housing cost/benefit includes size, amenities, privacy, etc. Commute cost/benefit includes time cost and financial cost (with the indirect costs of social and environmental damage). Some outliers sacrifice one to maximize the other, but consumers by and by large select the equilibrium point. Subsidized roads lower the time and financial cost of commuting, thus shifting the equilibrium point to a distance further from the core.

    I believe this exaplains it best:

    When governments do not price infrastructure to charge households for the marginal costs associated with their commuting, households will be willing to live further away from the core. As shown in Figure 20, this causes housing prices to rise further from the city core, while housing prices fall near the city centre. This leads to urban sprawl as rural areas at the city’s edge are converted into urban residence. Inefficiency is introduced whereby a greater share of the population is more willing to live near the city limits furthest away from a city core, thereby leading to more commuting than would occur if full user-fee pricing were in place.


    http://www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/...ban-growth.pdf

    3) Financing: Toll roads allow for effective full cost accounting and pricing. We can build infrastructure projects as fully self-sustaining entities. We base pricing off of the volume of traffic as a function of the cost of financing. General tax revenues are indirect and very difficult to adjust for local projects, making full cost accounting and pricing quite difficult. Toll roads are a great solution to funding our infrastructure deficit.

    4) Ending the free rider problem: This is especially relevant at the municipal level, which pays for a large proportion of our roads. Those who do not pay taxes to the jurisdiction responsible for road financing still consume roads. At a municipal level, this is over half the population, given that only those who own property pay taxes and municipalities cannot charge (and do not proportionally receive) gas taxes. At a provincial and federal level, non ratepayers can cross jurisdictional boundaries and consume the infrastructure as well.

    5) A point on gas taxes: Gas taxes are less direct and thus less efficient. They are less flexible in rate changes, making full cost accounting more difficult. While there is a relationship between gas consumption and road consumption, it is not a 1:1 relationship. Some vehicles are more fuel efficient. Some vehicles do not use conventional fuel. Some vehicles travel off-road. Gas taxes are also less effective in reducing congestion on key roads, which is something that toll roads can do. Tolls are more targeted and offer local capacity to influence road use. Gas taxes do not.

    A point on automated toll roads:

    Automated toll roads have been proven as cost effective in examples around the world. Here is one cost benefit analysis of automated vs traditional toll roads: http://www.piarc.org/ressources/docu...affarzadeh.pdf. They are used successfully in Canada as well, for instance in Ontario.

  9. #9

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    Definitely a nay to this one. It's another form of taxation. The government(s) don't have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem. We pay for are roads through many levels of taxation. Enough is enough.
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    ^That is actually not true in most cases. I think we look (public) at some bad examples of what we perceive as waste, but in most cases there isn't just extra revenue floating around when were talking about infrastructure projects in the billions of dollars.
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    I'd love to see road tolls, and I think that P3s like the Henday are the perfect place to start. The government has a significant expense every year to pay for the P3 contract.

    I do NOT think that a free roadway alternative is at all necessary. Travelling by car has a significant entry fee (car ownership and insurance) that already act as a barrier to the less wealthy segment of the population.
    It's a legitimate idea that there should be a low cost way to get places, but the freeway isn't it: we need safe sidewalks and bike routes to everywhere, and usable public transit. Providing freeway access free to the user is actually counterproductive to the goal of equitable access. Encouraging more freeway use via subsidy not only makes transit less viable by poaching riders, it makes self-powered travel less safe by inducing vehicle traffic, and in the long term it encourages sprawl and lower-density development which make trips longer and therefore more expensive and more difficult to take using actual low-cost modes.

    Add in the fact that freeways, like railroads and rivers, tend to create barriers to travel by their very existence without creating any quality of life value other than for users (yes, including the stuff that we buy that gets delivered via freeway) and it's pretty clear that freeways and expressways should be paid for by the user and not by the public at large.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    ^That is actually not true in most cases. I think we look (public) at some bad examples of what we perceive as waste, but in most cases there isn't just extra revenue floating around when were talking about infrastructure projects in the billions of dollars.
    When will it stop though. Will it end up like the airlines charging you for extra weight, then for extra bags, then for overhead luggage etc. Toll roads can go from charging a flat rate per vehicle to then going to the size of the vehicles, the number of passengers etc. That's not a stretch. The government will dream up all kinds of ways to relieve us of our cash.
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    ^ Toll roads should be regulated to full cost pricing. They should charge the rate they require to recover investment. How this is done (size, occupants etc) is irrelevant.

  14. #14

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    I think they make sense for major projects. For example, the ring road should have a toll on it, like you see in other cities (like Houston, Texas).

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    ^That is actually not true in most cases. I think we look (public) at some bad examples of what we perceive as waste, but in most cases there isn't just extra revenue floating around when were talking about infrastructure projects in the billions of dollars.
    When will it stop though. Will it end up like the airlines charging you for extra weight, then for extra bags, then for overhead luggage etc. Toll roads can go from charging a flat rate per vehicle to then going to the size of the vehicles, the number of passengers etc. That's not a stretch. The government will dream up all kinds of ways to relieve us of our cash.
    Airlines are not related to this discussion. If we want to pay for large infrastructure projects like highways through general tax revenue, it just means then we have to be prepared not to be able to pay for other things like hospitals or LRT. I guess my preference is the latter, but it doesn't have to be an either or. Through the last few years it has become clear that the provincial gov't has a serious revenue problem. There are certainly inefficiencies that can be addressed, but they don't add up to billions of dollars. They won't be enough to build what needs to be built.
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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    I think they make sense for major projects. For example, the ring road should have a toll on it, like you see in other cities (like Houston, Texas).
    I agree. The largest infrastructure projects in our provinces history was the Anthony Henday and Stony Trail. Both add up to nearly $17B when fully built. That's a lot of our hard-earned tax and royalty revenue going to into roads. I don't think it's the best value for money, not by a long shot. I don't think enough thought was put into whether this was the best use of that money.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    ^That is actually not true in most cases. I think we look (public) at some bad examples of what we perceive as waste, but in most cases there isn't just extra revenue floating around when were talking about infrastructure projects in the billions of dollars.
    When will it stop though. Will it end up like the airlines charging you for extra weight, then for extra bags, then for overhead luggage etc. Toll roads can go from charging a flat rate per vehicle to then going to the size of the vehicles, the number of passengers etc. That's not a stretch. The government will dream up all kinds of ways to relieve us of our cash.
    It's easy to get annoyed at every fee, but they really do make sense.

    Say you're travelling really light, just for a day, so you have a briefcase or computer bag, and that's it.

    You take less room, and you board fast, because you don't have all that stuff with you.
    Other people have maximised their carry-on so there's not enough room for it all. The plane takes longer to board, so you have to wait, there's not enough room overhead so you have to keep your bag on under the seat just so our computer's not at risk from the guy who's trying to slam the compartment closed on his giant backpack.
    Not only do all the people taking advantage of the "free" services inconvenience you, but you have to pay extra on you base ticket price to provide those free service.

    Driving is pretty much exactly the same. If I'm not driving I'm paying for you to:
    -Make noise
    -Make pollution
    -Make getting around in other ways less convenient and less safe
    -Get in the way of essential services that actually need to get around.

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    I don't get this 'users only pay' toll argument. Even if I'm not on a particular toll road I'm still going pay the toll. Who do you think trucking companies, bus companies etc. are going to pass the cost of these tolls onto?. If a transporter is taking people, grapes, electronic, groceries , carpets etc. up to Ft. Mc and hits a toll road they're not going to absorb that cost, it's going to be passed onto the consumer. Saying it's a user only toll is bogus, we are all, indirectly, users.
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  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    I think they make sense for major projects. For example, the ring road should have a toll on it, like you see in other cities (like Houston, Texas).
    I agree. The largest infrastructure projects in our provinces history was the Anthony Henday and Stony Trail. Both add up to nearly $17B when fully built. That's a lot of our hard-earned tax and royalty revenue going to into roads. I don't think it's the best value for money, not by a long shot. I don't think enough thought was put into whether this was the best use of that money.
    Every new highway should be tolled, the technology makes it easy to implement today. I also think not enough intelligent thought went into these roads versus instead, for example, completing the LRT network in both cities, or building an HSR between them. I'd like to see a toll put on AHD and Stoney Trail now to help pay for the LRT that we missed out on. Deerfoot trail, QEII and Whitemud drive could be tolled as well (Yellowhead and Crowchild aren't worthy IMO, although a toll might fund making them worthy). It could be a provinical run toll system with the cities having the option to opt in as they choose, for new projects, the registeries to administer it are already in place.
    Last edited by moahunter; 30-07-2015 at 12:07 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    I don't get this 'users only pay' toll argument. Even if I'm not on a particular toll road I'm still going pay the toll. Who do you think trucking companies, bus companies etc. are going to pass the cost of these tolls onto?. If a transporter is taking people, grapes, electronic, groceries , carpets etc. up to Ft. Mc and hits a toll road they're not going to absorb that cost, it's going to be passed onto the consumer. Saying it's a user only toll is bogus, we are all, indirectly, users.
    They are going to pass costs to their customers. Their customers require the use of the roads to purchase the product, hence the user pays principle stands.

    If you do not consume their products, you do not contribute to the toll. Right now, you contribute to companies whose products you will never buy, because they utilize roads paid by your taxes. Have you ever purchased a lamborghini? Well, you have contributed to their bottom line by providing the roads they use for transport.

    The entire point of this is that the people who benefit from the road pay for it. Your point here plays into that perfectly and is actually an argument in support of tolling rather than the opposite.

    Every new highway should be tolled, the technology makes it easy to implement today. I also think not enough intelligent thought went into these roads versus instead, for example, completing the LRT network in both cities, or building an HSR between them. I'd like to see a toll put on AHD and Stoney Trail now to help pay for the LRT that we missed out on. Deerfoot trail, QEII and Whitemud drive could be tolled as well (Yellowhead and Crowchild aren't worthy IMO, although a toll might fund making them worthy). It could be a provinical run toll system with the cities having the option to opt in as they choose, for new projects, the registeries to administer it are already in place.
    The intelligent thought comment is spot on. Roads are approved and built without a second thought from the public or politicians. Nobody questions whether we need a ring road. Nobody asks "how are we going to pay for this". Yet talking to people about bike lanes, bus routes, or LRT lines is pulling teeth. Even high speed rail is a good example. It is expected to "pay itself off". Why don't we require roads to pay themselves off prior to building them? We have a seriously flawed way of thinking about infrastructure in this country.
    Last edited by Jaerdo; 30-07-2015 at 12:10 PM.

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    ^What a circular argument. It makes it sound like money appears from somewhere then evaporates but nobodies wallet is lighter.
    We pay to much, to many and to high of taxes on just about everything. If it's hidden, shown or passed off as a fee (toll fee) or a rate rider or a administrative cost or just plain old taxes the 3 levels of government should give it a rest.
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  22. #22

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    ^Actually we don't pay that high of taxes. It's all relative.

    But if you're in favour of receiving less services and less infrastructure renewal for lower taxes, then I can't help you there. But this arguement that there is massive inefficiencies in government and there's tones of cash to be had if we only just looked harder is just not true.
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    I don't understand how you could spin that as a circular argument.

    Toll roads: People benefit from specific roads, and they pay for those roads.

    Your option: People benefit from specific roads, and they pay for roads they will never use in their lifetime.

    If you are concerned about paying more, you should prefer this system. It is far more transparent and straightforward. You set up an infrastructure fund for a road, that fund collects regulated rates to pay for the investment. No bouncing money around, no earmarking things 5 years in advance, no hidden costs. It is right there. You use it, you pay for it. Just like going to the grocery store or a restaurant. You use it, you buy it.

    I really do not get where you're coming from here. After reading your arguments, it seems abundantly clear that toll roads are a solution for the issues you see. You are concerned about misappropriated taxes, hidden fees, and needless bureaucracy. Toll roads are a perfect solution for all of that.

    But if you're in favour of receiving less services and less infrastructure renewal for lower taxes, then I can't help you there.
    I can help him there. Make the roads tolled. Therefore if he wants less services and less taxes, he can just refuse to use those roads or buy products from companies that use them. Therefore he doesn't have to pay a single cent into them.

  24. #24
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    ^^^You do realize that if we paid for roads by tolls we wouldn't have to pay for them from general revenues, right? That toll money will actually be used, and won't just disappear after it's received, right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    I think they make sense for major projects. For example, the ring road should have a toll on it, like you see in other cities (like Houston, Texas).
    I agree. The largest infrastructure projects in our provinces history was the Anthony Henday and Stony Trail. Both add up to nearly $17B when fully built. That's a lot of our hard-earned tax and royalty revenue going to into roads. I don't think it's the best value for money, not by a long shot. I don't think enough thought was put into whether this was the best use of that money.
    17 B seems like a lot of money doesn't it? Now break it down per user cost. Now compare that to LRT. Now see what really costs the most per user. You'll be surprised.
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    I did not say pay less taxes (although that would be nice) or advocate less service. I did say in a previous post, the three level of government have a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
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    I agree with user pay for roads, but if tolls are going to work they will need to be everywhere. Otherwise, you will divert traffic to alternate routes - look at Vancouver's gridlock on the Patullo bridge and the Massey tunnel after they tolled the Port Mann. The same thing would happen here if we tolled the Henday. Gateway, Whitemud, Yellowhead, 66/75 St, 170 St and others would all get more congested as a result. Making tolls comprehensive would require a lot of surveillance and billing infrastructure, while raising fuel taxes and changing the way they are allocated would just be an administrative measure.

    From the highway 63 thread:
    Quote Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    Tolls are more efficient on several fronts:

    1) Fuel taxes are insufficient to recover the costs of constructing and maintaining infrastructure. You would need to double or triple fuel taxes to recover the full cost.
    Fine, raise the provincial gasoline tax to $0.40/L, $0.45/L for diesel and $0.35/L for propane. People won't like it, but it will be more palatable than road tolls everywhere.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    2) Fuel taxes are indirect and do not have a 1:1 relationship with road use. (Some vehicles are more fuel efficient, allowing them to use roads and damage them more on less fuel. Some vehicles use fuel off-road.)
    Fuel efficiency is strongly correlated with vehicle weight, and weight is what damages roads. Untaxed dyed fuel is available for off-road vehicles.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    3) Direct tolls allow for superior full-cost accounting and pricing measures as they are flexible at the local level.
    True, but they also require additional infrastructure (cameras, transponders, or old-fashioned toll booths) and introduce billing overhead costs.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    4) Fuel taxes do not necessarily provide funding to the government responsible for infrastructure. You may fill up in Alberta, then use B.C. roads or vice versa. Similarly, you may fill up in Alberta and use municipal roads. Municipalities do not directly receive gas tax funding proportionate to the use of their roads. They receive funding proportionate to population, which is not a good measure of road use (some municipalities have more roads / need more roads for growth / have better alternative infrastructure to remove the need for roads).
    Interprovincial imbalance is minimal as the population centers of the Western provinces are not near provincial borders, and municipal transfer formulas can be altered easily.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    5) Indirect charges cause overconsumption through the illusion of subsidy. Given that direct use of roads is not charged to the consumer, consumers tend to utilize the infrastructure more than they would if they were directly charged. In other words, if we made people pay for their road use directly it would be a wash (or even less money spent) for the vast majority of people given that they pay either way, but due to economic irrationality people would actually end up using roads less and choose other transportation options.
    The current system isn't an illusion of subsidy, it is an actual subsidy because fuel taxes aren't sufficient to pay for road construction and maintenance. Raising gas taxes by $0.25/L would also make people think twice before driving anywhere, without having people plotting roundabout routes to minimize their tolls.

    The one thing that might make tolls more practical than fuel taxes could be widespread adoption of electric cars, but even there it may be possible for a smart electrical metering system to charge a different rate for car charging electricity than for other electricity.
    Last edited by Titanium48; 30-07-2015 at 12:56 PM.

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    ^ Yet again, gas taxes do not form a 1:1 relationship with road use. Toll roads do.

    Other tax regimes have overhead as well. I would argue much more overhead, as they do not just collect taxes. They collect taxes, decide which departments will get funding, run those departments, hire staff to pick priorities for the department, hire staff to build out priorities, then FINALLY fund the actual priorities (roads). Tolls go directly to repayment of the infrastructure. No middle ground. Directly, 100% given to the financing of the project.

    Toll roads do not need to be everywhere. They only need to be in pinch points. Put them on our major bridges and highways. The huge majority of people are not going to go to different routes, because the other routes would cost them more in gas and time than just paying the toll. Only the least intelligent among us will sacrifice more money in gas and time to avoid a toll, and I am fine with them dealing with that.

    Toll roads with modern technology also account for weight, which again, does not have a 1:1 relationship with gas taxes. It has A relationship, but not a 1:1 relationship. Modern toll roads use weight in motion and charge overweight vehicles automatically.

    They are a superior system in every regard to general taxation. I am for gas taxes as well on top of toll roads, but as a way to capture environmental externalities, not to fund infrastructure. The most effective way to fund infrastructure is user pay tolls.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    ^That is actually not true in most cases. I think we look (public) at some bad examples of what we perceive as waste, but in most cases there isn't just extra revenue floating around when were talking about infrastructure projects in the billions of dollars.
    Quote Originally Posted by GreenSPACE View Post
    ^Actually we don't pay that high of taxes. It's all relative.

    But if you're in favour of receiving less services and less infrastructure renewal for lower taxes, then I can't help you there. But this arguement that there is massive inefficiencies in government and there's tones of cash to be had if we only just looked harder is just not true.



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    ^^ Tolling only some roads does not result in a 1:1 relationship between road use and user fees either. Just tolling the bridges in Edmonton would not collect any revenue for a trip from Clareview to WEM, but would collect two tolls for the most efficient route from Capilano to U of A, despite the latter being half the distance.

    If it is possible to install infrastructure that ensures all road users are always tolled in direct proportion to their weight and distance driven for a reasonable price then I'm for it. However, I think the cost of implementation would be high, and/or the tolls would not end up being applied uniformly.

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    Tolling only some roads does not result in a 1:1 relationship between road use and user fees either. Just tolling the bridges in Edmonton would not collect any revenue for a trip from Clareview to WEM, but would collect two tolls for the most efficient route from Capilano to U of A, despite the latter being half the distance.
    Yes, it does have a 1:1 relationship. Tolls do not go into general revenue. They are DIRECTLY put into the financing of an infrastructure project. If people use infrastructure project "x", the money goes to paying for project "x". If they use project "y", the money goes to project "y". Project "x" does not fund project "y", or vice versa.

    In your example, the tolls work because they are used to fund the bridges. They have nothing to do with funding routes. Their intent is to finance the exact infrastructure they are levied on.

    The idea is that when you construct a project, it is self-sustaining. Alternatively for existing projects, you establish tolls that fully fund the maintenance of said infrastructure.

    If it is possible to install infrastructure that ensures all road users are always tolled in direct proportion to their weight and distance driven for a reasonable price then I'm for it. However, I think the cost of implementation would be high, and/or the tolls would not end up being applied uniformly.
    I'm all for that as well, but it isn't necessary to start using tolls. There are also massive privacy concerns with this.

  32. #32

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    Still banging away about road tolls as if your playing with Monopoly money and somehow it's not going to impact everyone except the people driving the actual vehicle. If a plumber has to go to Hubbles Lake or a Leon's Furniture truck has to go to Fox Creek and either on of them has to use a toll road who do you think is going to end up paying for that cost?. Same for every delivery vehicle on the highway whether it's a car carrying flowers or a semi full of grapes the cost is passed onto the consumer. Multiply that by the thousands of trucks, delivery vehicles and trades vehicles, passenger vehicles that converse Alberta's highways on a daily basis and that's a lot of extra taxes being passed along to the consumer. People are tired of paying taxes for things that we have already paid for in another form of taxation. Calling it a 'toll' is a way of trying to disguise what it a actually is, another tax.
    Last edited by Gemini; 30-07-2015 at 04:12 PM.
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    ^ You still don't seem to grasp the concept that you pay for it either way.

    Roads are not magically funded with pretend money right now. They are funded with general taxes. Toll roads are just a more efficient tax.

  34. #34

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    Like every other tax the government(s) imposes on us under the more 'efficient' banner. Let's hand are whole pay cheques over to the government and let them give back what they think we need to live on.
    You should be shaking your head into the reasons why you want to add one more from of taxation to the already long list we already have.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

  35. #35
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    This tax is literally more efficient.

    I get it, you dislike taxes. That isn't an argument that is relevant to the discussion. This is a discussion about how we should fund infrastructure. There are three options:

    - General tax revenue

    - Tolls

    - Do not build infrastructure at all.

    Which one exactly are you arguing for?

  36. #36
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    ^^^^ Old infrastructure still needs maintenance, where do you get that money from if you are only putting tolls on new infrastructure? If you use other taxes you have reversed the subsidy - people using the new infrastructure pay the toll and a fuel tax or other taxes, while people using old roads pay only the tax.

    I think there are a few places where limited tolls could work, but they don't necessarily have to be dedicated to a single project. Back to the Vancouver example, there is some support for putting an equal toll on all of the major bridges leading to Vancouver / Burnaby / Richmond, rather than just the Golden Ears and Port Mann, with the revenue used for maintenance and upgrading as necessary. With no way around the toll, it would no longer distort traffic patterns, and the toll could be justified by the higher cost of the long, high bridges needed to permit passage of ship traffic compared to more typical lower bridges with shorter spans.

    Highway 63 might work here in Alberta, as it is possible that most of the traffic is unusually time-sensitive and cost-insensitive and will choose to pay the toll for a somewhat shorter divided highway rather than take 881. It mostly worked on the Coquihalla in BC, although I suspect traffic on the old highway 1 has dropped significantly since the toll was removed. For highway 63 you would justify the toll as a way to help pay for over-engineered infrastructure that is not justified by the traffic volume using the usual metrics, and so to be fair you would set the toll lower than needed to fully pay for the cost of construction as users would still be paying fuel taxes too.

    ^ Fuel taxes could be separated from general revenue and dedicated to transportation infrastructure.

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    I sure would like to know what people mean by user pay. Since where you live, everything you do, or consume is ultimately dependent on roads (and path/sidewalk) you will end up paying for it anyways. I, as a businessman would certainly add that cost to my business and actually charge you more (for accounting plus contingency +++ so I can make a profit off of this misadventure and blame it on government). Where you seem to think costs would go down they would only be going up because of profits landing in the pockets of those using the road and the bureaucratic mess that the government would have to set up to account, bill and go after delinquencies. Everywhere in the world where toll roads are installed the citizenry pays one way or the other either to maintain my (and your) lifestyle and it actually costs more because both government and business take advantage. Think about it.

  38. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    This tax is literally more efficient.

    I get it, you dislike taxes. That isn't an argument that is relevant to the discussion. This is a discussion about how we should fund infrastructure. There are three options:

    - General tax revenue

    - Tolls

    - Do not build infrastructure at all.

    Which one exactly are you arguing for?
    Can you find me anyone who does like taxes?.
    I realize we live in a society that tries to maintain a pleasant and livable environment for all. I get it we all have to contribute taxes (in all forms) for the good of all. People are taxed on their wages, their bank saving, their pensions and just about every time they put their hands in their pockets to buy something.
    Forms of taxation:

    Fees
    Tolls,
    Premiums
    Rate Riders
    Sur-charges
    GST/HST etc.
    Property Taxes
    School Taxes
    School Fees
    Distribution Charges
    etc.

    (add some of your own here)



    I will say it for the third time in this thread then I'm done with it. The government(s) don't have a revenue problem they have a spending problem.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

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    And... I certainly wouldn't let bicyclists or walkers use my road without "paying" for it. After all both sidewalks and paths must be maintained and I don't use those. The more I think about it the more I see that I can use it for free (actually profit) while you pay for it.

  40. #40
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    ^
    -You don't have a road or sidewalk.
    -Pedestrian/cyclist infrastructure is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the interchanges, freeways, bridges and divided highways we're talking about.
    -And... sure. pass the cost on to your customers. That's not the same as using something for free. it's also not something that you'll be able to make much profit on. You have competition, after all, and I've never heard of a business cheering for an increased cost because it increases profit.
    Depending how much of your business's driving is done at peak hours you could actually save significantly if the toll affects traffic and reduces congestion. You could save significantly on labour if your delivery drivers or other mobile employees were not spending extra time in slow traffic. That sucks, though, because when costs go down your profit goes down too, right?

  41. #41

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    You can't argue that taxes are too high and innefficient and say that's why we shouldn't put tolls on the road. That just doesn't make sense.

    What toll highways are essentially doing is privatizing a public good.

  42. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Like every other tax the government(s) imposes on us under the more 'efficient' banner. Let's hand are whole pay cheques over to the government and let them give back what they think we need to live on.
    You should be shaking your head into the reasons why you want to add one more from of taxation to the already long list we already have.
    To be clear, we're talking About using tolls to build and maintain specific and particular infrastructre, not random placement for no reason. This also should be as a P3 process and tendered to the lowest bidder.

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    I was being facetious but my point still stands. Consumers will pay.

    San Francisco and Manhattan are more expensive than their suburbs and part of that is because of the tolls to get into and out of the the city. Tolls have a very real effect on even those that "don't use the bridge".

    I just want people to take ownership of the fact that they do use the bridge if they are consuming a service or product that came over that bridge. They were served by it and they owe something because of that, regardless of whether they, themselves drove over it. I guess the question is, do you want to pay taxes or inflated prices for your goods?

  44. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Krokwalk View Post
    I just want people to take ownership of the fact that they do use the bridge if they are consuming a service or product that came over that bridge. They were served by it and they owe something because of that, regardless of whether they, themselves drove over it. I guess the question is, do you want to pay taxes or inflated prices for your goods?
    Let me put it another way. Should someone in Grande Prairie be subsidizing products I buy with their tax dollars, or vice versa? If the producers I buy products from pay tolls and pass the cost down to me, then I'm paying closer to the "true" cost of my product, ie not taxpayer subsidized. Isn't that an ideal capitalist outcome? Isn't good fiscal policy when quantity supplied equals quantity demanded without government interference?

    Now I'm not against public infrastructure spending, particularly if it creates positive externalities, and certainly economic stimulus is one of them, but all options should be on the table when it comes to more efficient mega-project funding.

    Note: Congestion tax is very different from using tolls to fund projects. When talking about putting tolls on the bridges that cross into downtown, it would be the former. I don't personally think Edmonton needs that or it would be politically viable.
    Last edited by Snake Eyes; 30-07-2015 at 09:53 PM.

  45. #45
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    Congestion charges should be called de-congestion charges, because if they're set right the few who opt to pay them are rewarded with de-congested streets, and those who don't pay but use Buses instead get buses that are faster and more efficient than before.

  46. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    Congestion charges should be called de-congestion charges, because if they're set right the few who opt to pay them are rewarded with de-congested streets, and those who don't pay but use Buses instead get buses that are faster and more efficient than before.
    Yes, I agree. I just don't think Edmonton is there yet -- congestion is really not that bad here, even compared to Toronto and Vancouver, nevermind cities like London where they've been experimenting with congestion taxes. Also there are so many bridges that cross the river, there's so many alternative points if a bridge is unavailable. It's not like Halifax/Dartmouth where there are only two bridges, both tolled.
    Last edited by Snake Eyes; 30-07-2015 at 11:04 PM.

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by highlander View Post
    ^
    -You don't have a road or sidewalk.
    -Pedestrian/cyclist infrastructure is relatively inexpensive, especially compared to the interchanges, freeways, bridges and divided highways we're talking about.
    -And... sure. pass the cost on to your customers. That's not the same as using something for free. it's also not something that you'll be able to make much profit on. You have competition, after all, and I've never heard of a business cheering for an increased cost because it increases profit.
    Depending how much of your business's driving is done at peak hours you could actually save significantly if the toll affects traffic and reduces congestion. You could save significantly on labour if your delivery drivers or other mobile employees were not spending extra time in slow traffic. That sucks, though, because when costs go down your profit goes down too, right?
    What about utility companies? Build a mega power line that isn't needed and charge your customers an extra $3 per month forever.
    Last edited by SP59; 31-07-2015 at 12:40 AM.

  48. #48

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    The problem with road fees is that they are an indefinite balanced revenue stream to cover a series of expenses that is in no way balanced or indefinite, but rather spiky, with a very large outlay up front for construction and then sporadic and irregularly timed for repairs, with huge variations for the economic cycle.

    These episodic expenditures are best dealt with out of the general revenue, where they are balanced by a large enough number of other expenditures that projections of the overall budget can be made with statistical confidence.

    Per-road per-use tolls are difficult to map to the expenditure they are trying to cover and therefore like airport improvement fees become a great cash cow.

    The philosophy of "user pay" is a specious and ideologically tattered statement. The only possible ideology for public services must be efficiency, that is the provision of maximal services by the most economic means.

    If everyone is honest, it is clear that general taxation is by far the most equitable and efficient revenue stream.

    [The moral history of the Western capitalist world proves that honesty cannot be reached or "incentivized" (ugh, such capitalist-sh*t talk right there) through monetary incentives. Singapore proves that the only way to public honesty is the ruthless and uniform enforcement of the harshest possible laws.]
    Last edited by AShetsen; 31-07-2015 at 08:56 AM.

  49. #49
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    Default David Dodge Says Alberta Needs Tolls. Ceci Unconvinced.

    http://edmontonjournal.com/news/loca...rta-toll-roads

    In Dodge’s newly released report, he says the main beneficiaries of any particular highway are the users, but the construction and maintenance costs fall on all taxpayers. “The use of municipal roads and provincial highways is provided free of charge to the users while competing forms of transportation (rail, air, and in part municipal transit) must be paid for by the passengers or shippers.”

    Tolls could go only on new roads, Dodge suggested. “Thus, the Alberta government should give serious consideration to setting user fees for the Calgary and Edmonton ring roads … Cities could begin by imposing tolls only on major upgrades.

    Dodge makes a lot of sense. But this is one recommendation the NDP rejects.

    I asked Dodge for his take on why governments are so shy about tolls.

    “I think it’s understandable because it’s in your face,” he said. “We would have a hell of time collecting income tax if you had to write a cheque every month to the government. We can collect income tax because it’s off your pay cheque.”

    While Ceci and the NDP run from tolls today, the debate isn’t going away.

    And just as Dodge is right that major borrowing is needed to build needed infrastructure now, he also nails it on tolls.
    Now is the time to use them. We need a government brave enough to make people pay for what they use.

  50. #50
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    Doesn't Edmonton already have automated voluntary road tolls setup?










    ....for those that don't get it, I'm referring to photo radar.

  51. #51
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    So lets extend your argument on road tolls. So only people that have children in school should pay school taxes, only people that are sick should pay for healthcare?

  52. #52
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    ^ There is no potential for over-consumption derived from subsidy in either of those things, as they are perfectly inelastic goods. Ergo, having completely socialized systems for both is a response to address market failures that inevitably rise from perfectly inelastic systems. On parents being the only ones to pay for school: this ignores the fact that all people benefit from schools in their youth, and all people benefit from an educated society in their entire life.

    There are policy considerations for many services. Even with roads, you may find that tolling things like residential streets never makes sense, or that a 100% cost recovery toll has too negative an impact on the economy. You always need to find the balance.
    Last edited by Jaerdo; 03-11-2015 at 09:06 AM.

  53. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    ^ There is no potential for over-consumption derived from subsidy in either of those things, as they are perfectly inelastic goods.
    Wrong. People will avoid medical help if there is a cost, even a very small one. Schooling is also elastic and many student drop out or become perennial students.

    I do not drive during rush hour for fun. I have to go to work. Transit does not service my destination period. That is inelastic.

    How come you keep making so many false statements?
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  54. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by sundance View Post
    So lets extend your argument on road tolls. So only people that have children in school should pay school taxes, only people that are sick should pay for healthcare?
    Schools:
    As far as primary/secondary education goes, every child raised in Alberta will be educated at pretty much the same cost, and each child will go on to contribute much more to society than if he or she were to remain illiterate. This is somewhat analogous to local streets which provide access to property, increasing the value of a property and the taxes that it generate and help ensure that the property is productive. The local street, like the public school, is also open to all.

    Extra costs for charter or special-focus schools, as well as for special programmes, sports and arts extracurricular activities are borne by the family because they are far less of a need and more of a want than basic education. Like freeways they do provide benefits, but unlike local streets and public schools there is less direct public benefit, also unlike public schools and local streets there are also barriers to entry.

    To benefit from freeways I need a car and the ability to drive or the means to hire someone to do it for me. On local streets you can walk or bike or use a wheelchair.

    Similarly, many special programs have barriers to entry, like auditions, entry exams or tryouts, while students of all abilities can attend public schools and at least ideally get an education that suits their speed.

    Healthcare is a very different beast than education or transport. We have public healthcare in large part because in healthcare there can be large, unforseeable costs that are not related, or at least not directly related to person choices, but with devastating costs. Unlike a student facing the high cost of post secondary education a patient can't take a year or two off to save up for antibiotics, and you can move or change jobs to avoid a 2-hour commute and cost of putting so many miles on your car but you can't do much to avoid the same hours and costs of dialysis.

    We do, however, attempt to mitigate the costs of catastrophic events on the road in a similar way to how we do public health care, by making insurance mandatory and regulating insurance companies (Alberta has ObamaCare but BC has a single-payer system) and providing emergency response as a government service.

  55. #55

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    I don't have kids in school but I don't mind still paying school taxes. My philosophy is that my school taxes are going toward educating people who contribute to all of society, that is one endless list.
    Toll fees, not so much. Any tool fees for goods and services vehicles will just be passed onto the consumer. Toll fees on private vehicles is just another tax and well all pay enough of those. The government(s) generate all of their money from the taxpayers, that money goes to pay for roads and a whole heap of other infrastructure. We have already paid for the roads once, why double dip with a toll charge.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

  56. #56
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    In the case of the Henday significant sections have been P3, so the government will still be paying for 30 years. It hasn't been paid for, and since the alternative is either debt or more general taxation I think tolls are entirely reasonable.

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    ^ But you still have the diversion problem. People who would otherwise take the Henday will take Whitemud or Yellowhead instead if you toll it. Some infrastructure ends up overused and congested, while other infrastructure is underused.

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    http://www.metronews.ca/news/edmonto...it-fares-.html

    Edmonton starts debate on commuting costs, toll roads and distance-based transit fares

    Whether people travel on the road or the LRT, the city is starting a debate on if they should pay based on how far they go.

    In a white paper released Friday, the city raised the idea of both road tolls and distanced-based fares for transit. The paper suggests a distance based-fare system could encourage more people to live in the core and could be achievable with the new Smart Fare system currently under development.

    “Numerous metropolitan centres use geographic or distance-travelled variable transit pricing. The city will have more opportunity to apply different transit service pricing models once the Smart Fare system is deployed,” reads the report.

    Coun. Scott McKeen said the public will likely be resistant to either tolls or distance-based fares.

    “I suspect there is not much of an appetite in the public for any user fee going up.”

    McKeen said he would have to be convinced that there is a significant cost difference for how far someone travels on transit.

    “If we’re going that far anyways, are we artificially creating a fare system based on distance?” he asked.

    He said he does want to see more growth in the core and less sprawl, but he would prefer to do so without heavy-handed measures.

    “The worst thing we can do is create this urban versus suburban argument.”

    The city will hold a public hearing on the issue on April 12.
    “You have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.” - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012

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    http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/edmonton-...bate-1.2843594

    Edmonton opens up the toll-road debate

    Edmonton is opening the discussion to the possibility of charging a toll for drivers to use the roads.

    Should there be toll roads in Edmonton? What would be the fee?
    The city has published a white paper meant to look at different ways to bring in revenue to ensure Edmonton’s financial sustainability over the next ten years.

    One of the topics is user fees and whether the city should be charging for certain services, such as roads.

    “The value of all these financial white papers is really to have conversations about various things that we should be exploring or at least even thinking about,” said Ward 1 City Councillor Andrew Knack.

    In Canada, there are 20 tolled roadways and bridges, two in British Columbia, three in Nova Scotia, 12 in Ontario, one in Prince Edward Island, and two in Quebec, according to the white paper.

    However in Alberta, the traffic act doesn’t allow for a municipality to charge a fee on roadways or bridges.

    Knack doubts people in Edmonton are going to see toll roads anytime in the near future.

    “I don’t think you’re ever going to see that (toll roads),” said Knack. “First it’s going to have to come from a provincial change.”

    “It’s a conversation starter, to make people think about not just Edmonton tomorrow, but Edmonton in 40 years.”

    The discussion goes to a public hearing April 12.

    Questions the city wants residents to consider regarding user fees:

    • Are targeted subsidies based on age justified if the intention is to address income disparity?
    • Is full tax-supported subsidization justified if a program or service derives clear private benefits?
    • Is levying user fees on transit users but not roadway users justified if both derive clear private benefits?
    • Should the City consider charging different user fee rates for different levels of service?

    With files from CTV's Breanna Karstens-Smith
    “You have to dream big. If we want to be a little city, we dream small. If we want to be a big city, we dream big, and this is a big idea.” - Mayor Stephen Mandel, 02/22/2012

  60. #60
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    ^If the goal is to start a conversation, best not to base the conversation on a faulty premise. And the question in the third bullet above is a doozy.

    I'm a regular transit user, but don't delude myself into believing my fare helps cover the cost of roadways. Not only do transit fares not pay for roads, they don't pay to buy buses or any other capital cost associated with transit. Fares cover about 40% of the cost of operating the transit system (e.g. ETS salaries, fuel), nothing else.

  61. #61

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    The drivers who should be paying are those from surrounding cities and towns. Put toll booths at points going in and out of the city. Make Edmonton drivers exempt.

  62. #62

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    Agreed

    The faulty premise also assumes that drivers pay nothing for roads.

    A partial list of taxes that go towards general revenue that are often dispersed to roads and transit.
    • GST
    • gas taxes
    • vehicle registration
    • property taxes
    • income taxes
    • business taxes
    • automoblie taxes


    Moreover, these taxes support 60% of transit operations and 100% of transit capital funding. Even the Office of the City Auditor reports that 25% of ETS's costs are hidden as shared costs such as road maintenance on bus routes that are not included in the ETS budget.

    ETS cannot provide a reasonable level of service for the majority of people so it is not a viable alternative to the personal vehicle. People having ho choice but to purchase a vehicle to get to work, increases the economy and creates jobs; a net benefit to the government. If everyone decided to switch to public transit, there would be a 10 fold increase in the bus fleet, huge costs to train and pay drivers, mechanics and staff. What would they do then, force transit users to pay tolls?
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  63. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by River Valley Green View Post
    The drivers who should be paying are those from surrounding cities and towns. Put toll booths at points going in and out of the city. Make Edmonton drivers exempt.
    They had the opportunity to place tolls on the AHD, why did they not do it then?
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  64. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by River Valley Green View Post
    The drivers who should be paying are those from surrounding cities and towns. Put toll booths at points going in and out of the city. Make Edmonton drivers exempt.
    It goes both ways. We seem to forget on this C2E board that there are many Edmontonians who leave the city for the surrounding communities to work in industry. If your going to toll drivers heading into Edmonton, what's stopping Nisku, Strathcona County, Parkland County, Sturgeon county, etc from tolling too?

    Lets also not forget that the province usually pays for 75% of major roads and infrastructure upgrades.

    Tolls and userfees are not the answer.

    Edmonton needs to fix it car-dependant developments. There is too much of this city that can only be accessed by using a car.
    A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

  65. #65
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    ^^^^^Sort of.

    That in the case of roads there is a private component (purchase, maintenance, insurance and fuel of a car or truck) is a revelation to no one and it's not really central to the issue.

    The service that transit provides to the public is not the same as the service that our road network offers. Transit offers transportation from somewhere close to point A to somewhere near point B, the road network offers only access to infrastructure - a whole suite of infrastructure that can be accessed cheaply on foot or on a bike (Still need shoes and/or a bike), at moderate cost in a compact car or, entirely at the discretion of the user, in a luxury car. That cars can cost a lot to run should not be part of the conversation, because that's not the service that the city is offering.

  66. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by River Valley Green View Post
    The drivers who should be paying are those from surrounding cities and towns. Put toll booths at points going in and out of the city. Make Edmonton drivers exempt.
    They had the opportunity to place tolls on the AHD, why did they not do it then?
    Because the Henday is a provincial highway, and is paid for by every tax payer in the province. Why should they toll it, and why would Edmontonians feel they should be exempt from being tolled on a provincially paid for highway.

    Tolling rolls/entrances/highways is not the solution.
    A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

  67. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edmonton PRT View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by River Valley Green View Post
    The drivers who should be paying are those from surrounding cities and towns. Put toll booths at points going in and out of the city. Make Edmonton drivers exempt.
    They had the opportunity to place tolls on the AHD, why did they not do it then?
    Short-Sightedness, on the part of the province, not the city, which has no authority there.

    The Henday is still the ideal place to start with tolling. Thanks to the P3 setup it's not paid for, and it will have to be paid for with monthly installments for the next 30 years. Paying for that with user fees would be great for the provincial budget and wouldn't have to be a massive toll. Something on the order of 15c/km would probably be enough to handle the P3 payments.

    I don't want to see a punitive toll, but anything that puts the burden of paying for high-cost infrastructure more directly on those using it would be a good thing.

  68. #68
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    Tolls are literally the best way to finance infrastructure. They just are. The evidence is wholly against the naysayers.

    Sources:

    Alm, J. (2015). FINANCING URBAN INFRASTRUCTURE: KNOWNS, UNKNOWNS, AND A WAY FORWARD. Journal Of Economic Surveys, 29(2)

    General benefit of user-fee models:

    User fees are widely seen as the most appropriate source of revenues for operation and maintenance expenses. If set at marginal cost of service provision, user fees can generate the revenues necessary to pay for ongoing variable costs of service provision. In addition, if set at appropriate levels, user fees can serve the same basic function as market prices for market commodities, as an indicator of consumer willingness to pay for services. More generally, it is typically recommended that local governments should rely predominately upon user charges to finance goods that provide measurable benefits to identifiable individuals within a single jurisdiction.
    Landers, J. (2009). Commission Calls for Mileage-Based User Fee, Gas Tax Increase. Civil Engineering (08857024), 79(5), 30-32.

    Superiority over gas taxes:

    “The current indirect user fee system based on taxes paid for fuel consumed provides users with only weak price signals to use the transportation system in the most efficient ways,” the report states. The report also notes that
    “fuel taxes have no direct link to specific parts of the system being used or to times of the day and thus cannot be used to affect these kinds of traveler choices.”
    For these reasons the commission urges Congress to consider eventually scrapping the existing gas tax approach in favor of a “user charge system based more directly on miles driven,”
    http://www.policyschool.ucalgary.ca/...ban-growth.pdf

    Economic efficiency (decision-making):
    When governments do not price infrastructure to charge households for the marginal costs associated with their commuting, households will be willing to live further away from the core.
    As shown in Figure 20, this causes housing prices to rise further from the city core, while housing prices fall near the city centre. This leads to urban sprawl as rural areas at the city’s edge are converted into urban residence. Inefficiency is introduced whereby a greater share of the population is more willing to live near the city limits furthest away from a city core, thereby leading to more commuting than would occur if full user-fee pricing were in place.
    Full-cost pricing for roads would also have the effect of reducing car travel by eliminating the distortions associated with unpriced roads, distortions that diminish the relative cost-benefit value of alternative forms of transportation.
    Efficiency in planning:
    User pricing will create revenue streams to determine the value of an infrastructure project and cover the cost of projects. Users who pay for the cost of the service will demand providers be efficient, to keep fees low, and users will indicate their willingness to pay for new infrastructure. Otherwise, governments must determine the degree to which they will support infrastructure spending through tax and debt financing. The normative assessment then becomes part of the political decision-making process in urban cities, which might explain its constant underfunding.
    Responsible debt financing:
    Broader use of pricing for infrastructure would also create predictable and dedicated revenue streams that would allow municipalities to responsibly take on additional debt to invest in much needed municipal infrastructure. On average, municipalities are currently well below provincial imposed debt limits, but as discussed, the creation of such liabilities necessitates a revenue stream. Embracing user-pay models would allow for the efficient generation of this revenue at the municipal level.

    Also to dispel the absurd lie in several posts prior to this one that drivers pay their own way to an extent similar to transit users:

    Figure 16 provides specific subsidy rates for various forms of infrastructure. Roads, streets, walks and lighting are highly subsidized, with taxpayers covering roughly 85 per cent of revenues, followed by storm sewers and drainage (in the smaller cities, both categories are 100 per cent funded by taxpayers). About 40 per cent of transit operational revenues are taxpayer funded, the highest level in Medicine Hat (53 per cent) and Calgary (45 per cent).18
    https://www.cdhowe.org/pdf/commentary_241.pdf

    Benefits of utilizing a benefits-based (those who benefit, pay) financing model:

    Economic (allocative) efficiency, which is achieved when the charge or tax per unit of output (service received) equals the cost of the last unit consumed, because this is the point where society secures the greatest net gain from the consumption of this service.

    Accountability, which requires that the design of a tax or charge be clear to taxpayers and that the link between the beneficiaries of a government service and payment for that service be tight.

    Transparency, which means that citizens/taxpayers have access to information and decision making forums so they are familiar with the way in which local tax rates and user fees are set.

    Fairness, which is achieved when those who consume public services pay for them. Income redistribution is better achieved through income transfers or targeting (Boadway and Kitchen 1999, chaps. 8 and 9) than by tampering with charges or taxes.

    Ease of administration, which is satisfied when the financing system does not absorb unnecessary time and effort in administration and compliance.
    http://www.smartgrowth.bc.ca/Portals...report-web.pdf

    Promotes good urban design and drives smartgrowth:

    By linking charge levels to infrastructure use, financing mechanisms can encourage more efficient land use and infrastructure investment decisions

    This conversation is shaping up like the global warming one. On one hand you have the evidence. On the other you have people ignoring the evidence for emotional, ideological, or purely selfish reasons. Frankly, there is no real need to discuss whether user fees are the best choice: they just are. The only discussion necessary is how to overcome the political and emotional barriers to implementing them.

  69. #69

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    I resent having to pay any toll in city limits while surrounding communities get off light when it comes to using and paying for our infrastructure. Literally half of St. Albert works in Edmonton.

  70. #70
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    ^ That is literally the entire point of instituting user fees. Right now, you get the privilege of paying your hard earned tax dollars for roads used by people from out of town. Chances are that some of the roads that YOU pay for are over 50% used by people from out of town (namely going in-out of St. Albert). A road toll would transfer the cost to the people who use it, and you would no longer have to pay for things you don't use.

    Same within the city. You only pay for roads you use. Everyone who uses the road pays for it, regardless of where they live. It is the most efficient, fair, transparent, and accountable financing system possible.

  71. #71

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    So long as they set them up on all the footbridges for bicycle riders only.

  72. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by River Valley Green View Post
    I resent having to pay any toll in city limits while surrounding communities get off light when it comes to using and paying for our infrastructure. Literally half of St. Albert works in Edmonton.
    I resent having to pay any toll in city limits while Edmontonians get off light when it comes to using and paying for our infrastructure in rural areas. Literally all of Edmonton travels outside of Edmonton at some point.

  73. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by River Valley Green View Post
    I resent having to pay any toll in city limits while surrounding communities get off light when it comes to using and paying for our infrastructure. Literally half of St. Albert works in Edmonton.
    To that point. Many of the transit bosses and drivers live outside of Edmonton (EPS, EFD, EMS and others too). Their wages paid by the COE and they pay their taxes to St. Albert, Leduc, Beaumont or Sherwood Park.

    Last edited by Edmonton PRT; 04-04-2016 at 12:06 PM.
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  74. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by Himser View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by River Valley Green View Post
    I resent having to pay any toll in city limits while surrounding communities get off light when it comes to using and paying for our infrastructure. Literally half of St. Albert works in Edmonton.
    I resent having to pay any toll in city limits while Edmontonians get off light when it comes to using and paying for our infrastructure in rural areas. Literally all of Edmonton travels outside of Edmonton at some point.
    Then don't come to the city.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  75. #75
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    So let me get this straight.

    Drivers are part of the group that pays for roads mostly through general taxes so we shouldn't use tolls despite the fact that it would relieve the burden on those who receive minimal benefit from the roads despite paying for them in the current scheme, including groups like seniors who drive little, and almost never at peak times, or people who pay more for housing within walking distance of work and then as thanks for doing their part in reducing congestion get to pay higher taxes to pay for the roads for everyone else to use.

    BUT people from suburban towns who pay the same fuel taxes and provincial income taxes that pay for a lot of our arterials and freeways as city dwellers do are ungrateful free-loaders who should be targeted with discriminatory tolls to make sure they pay their share.

    Nope, no inconsistancy there.

  76. #76

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    Glad you agree!
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  77. #77
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    Great selective reading and willful ignorance going on in this thread. Could be a case-study in cognitive dissonance.

    This is a carbon copy of the global warming "debate". Overwhelming evidence on one side, willful ignorance backed up by bizarre, feeble emotional arguments on the other.

  78. #78

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    You want shortcutting? Tolls are how you get more shortcutting as people find ways to dodge tolls

    Id sure like to know how you apply your theories to practice. Are you going to toll all the entrances to Edmonton? Want to stop people from coming to Edmonton to spend their money and support local businesses? This is a great way to start.

    Some of you need to step beyond theories and into reality.

    Where in north america do they toll local roads in a city? No where? Because the theory when applied to reality doesnt mash.


    And most of this ignores the fact that the major roadways used by outsiders are already paid for in part by outsiders through the provincial government, who usually pays 75% of the total cost
    A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

  79. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    Great selective reading and willful ignorance going on in this thread. Could be a case-study in cognitive dissonance.

    This is a carbon copy of the global warming "debate". Overwhelming evidence on one side, willful ignorance backed up by bizarre, feeble emotional arguments on the other.
    Easy there kettle calling the pot black much? You seem to think only you have the 'right answer' to everything. Why dont we just make you god and everyone should live the way you dictate.
    Sorry the world is not as black and white as your naive young self seems to believe. Id bet your single male under 25 with all good intentions but missing out on how the world spins
    A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

  80. #80
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    You're missing the entire point here.

    The opportunity with tolls is first and foremost the financing of massive infrastructure projects. In theory it would be best if we could toll everywhere, all the time, but we can't. So no one is claiming we should do that. Minor local roads that are technologically not possible to toll should be accounted for through gas taxes (which are also the best method of accounting for environmental externalities).

    One of the main benefits of tolls is that they help to plan out new projects by giving an accurate estimate of demand. Without proper pricing, the future demand for the project is very difficult to project. With pricing, the size and scope can be determined with market principles of supply and demand.

    So for "local roads" you start out by applying them to major infrastructure pinch-points like bridges. A key example in Edmonton being the Walterdale bridge, which would have been ideal for a toll.

    The only other locations that are feasible are limited-access freeways. In Edmonton you have the AHD provincial highway, and in terms of municipal roads you have the Whitemud and the Yellowhead. All of those roads could be tolled without much in the way of administrative overhead. In terms of the yellowhead it is an ideal opportunity to properly build it out - the tolls will pay their way.

    I'm also at a bit of a loss why the "provincial government pays" argument is being used. That plays directly into my argument. We are paying through our income taxes for roads that most will never use. A portion of subsidy to account for the public benefit is fine, but it is absurd to levy the entire cost on them.

    Easy there kettle calling the pot black much? You seem to think only you have the 'right answer' to everything. Why dont we just make you god and everyone should live the way you dictate.
    Sorry the world is not as black and white as your naive young self seems to believe. Id bet your single male under 25 with all good intentions but missing out on how the world spins
    I'm not saying that "only I" have the right answer. I'm saying that there is an overwhelming body of literature that has come to the conclusion that user-pays/benefit principle models are the most effective way to finance infrastructure.

    Pretty simple concept. There is evidence that this is the best way. Thanks for the hilariously off-base attempted insult, though.
    Last edited by Jaerdo; 04-04-2016 at 12:44 PM.

  81. #81

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    Personally keep tolls out of the picture.. but if we really want to encourage transit give free transit.. When i lived in the city the #1 Reason i never took transit was cost. it was always cheaper to drive then take the bus. (#2 reason being convenance as transit operated at odd hours, and did not go the places i wanted as well as took 3-4X as long to get anywhere it did go.)

  82. #82
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    ^^ I don't know if we even in theory all streets should be tolled. In theory, a local street doesn't exist so much for mobility as for access - that is, the benefits from the local street existing don't so much accrue to vehicles per movement as they are mostly to the benefit of local land parcels that have value because they are accessible. Local Streets are and should be paid for with property taxes.

    Freeways are different, and the value of pure "road" type infrastructure is primarily to the benefit to those who use the road, so ideally they should be paid for primarily by travelers. Arterial that do double-duty are somewhere in between.

    As for short-cutting issues, shouldn't other means to prevent short-cutting beside free arterial be taken into consideration? Those controversial lower speed limits on residential streets would do some good, especially in the long term when 30km/hr streets can be redesigned and re-built specifically with lower speeds in mind?

  83. #83

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    Sorry, if you toll the walterdale bridge, I'll take a different route. That's how this will play out. Tolls are not a way to measure traffic volumes. There's many other ways to measure traffic volumes

    Please, apply reality to your theories before copy/pasting some theory to this forum.

    I take everything you say with a big grain of salt Jaerdo, because I know how anti-car your bias is.
    A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

  84. #84
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    ^^ In the theoretical example, the tolls for a local road would be extremely small given much less wear and tear, and that new ones should be built by developers. In that case you might even be right, the cost of administering the toll might be higher than the amount collected.

    Regardless though, that is just theory and no one is honestly suggesting that all roads everywhere should or even could be tolled right now.

    Regarding shortcutting, the vast majority of people do not attempt to avoid tolls. Some people do, but they generally get frustrated after trying it for a while and decide that the road is worth it.

    It will equalize long-term, and is working as intended by making people honestly question whether driving is worth the cost of paying for the road. That is the "economic decision making" benefit of toll roads - people are confronted with the real cost of their decision to drive every time they go on the road.

    orry, if you toll the walterdale bridge, I'll take a different route. That's how this will play out. Tolls are not a way to measure traffic volumes. There's many other ways to measure traffic volumes

    Please, apply reality to your theories before copy/pasting some theory to this forum.

    I take everything you say with a big grain of salt Jaerdo, because I know how anti-car your bias is.
    The vast majority of people will not, and you won't either after a couple months of grudge-driving yourself an extra 20 minutes away. If you can't stomach being faced with the cost of your decision to drive, maybe you shouldn't drive at all. You're missing the point with "measuring volume". This is about economic decision making, which evidently is going over your head.

    I take everything you say with a grain of salt, because I know how strong your anti-evidence, anti-reality bias is.
    Last edited by Jaerdo; 04-04-2016 at 01:23 PM.

  85. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    Thanks for the hilariously off-base attempted insult, though.
    Were you referring to your post in this?

    Great selective reading and willful ignorance going on in this thread. Could be a case-study in cognitive dissonance.

    This is a carbon copy of the global warming "debate". Overwhelming evidence on one side, willful ignorance backed up by bizarre, feeble emotional arguments on the other.
    Maybe you should consider what you are saying first?
    A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims, but accomplices.

  86. #86

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    Quote Originally Posted by Himser View Post
    Personally keep tolls out of the picture.. but if we really want to encourage transit give free transit.. When i lived in the city the #1 Reason i never took transit was cost. it was always cheaper to drive then take the bus. (#2 reason being convenance as transit operated at odd hours, and did not go the places i wanted as well as took 3-4X as long to get anywhere it did go.)
    I agree and I have suggested this many times.

    Rather than increasing the cost of automobile usage or creating a toll system, add a 5 cent gas tax and then eliminate the tolls on transit usage.

    The weakest argument I heard against this, is the suggestion that homeless people would sleep on the LRT or buses and ETS would be powerless to remove them. I pointed out to a transit planner that if a homeless person had a monthly bus pass today, how could you remove them from the bus? They had no answer because they never considered this an issue.

    They also argue that if transit would be free, too many people would use it! Is that not what the objective is???

    I think that no one in transit planning has really considered the benefits of free transit, only the negatives.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  87. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Himser View Post
    Personally keep tolls out of the picture.. but if we really want to encourage transit give free transit.. When i lived in the city the #1 Reason i never took transit was cost. it was always cheaper to drive then take the bus. (#2 reason being convenance as transit operated at odd hours, and did not go the places i wanted as well as took 3-4X as long to get anywhere it did go.)
    I'd rather we subsidize less rather than more.
    You acknowledge that price has been a strong signal to you, and that it does influence the decisions that you make.... what if we utilized that money-saving instinct that many of us have to make traffic flow better? What if by charging more to use the white-mud and yellowhead at peak times than at off-peak we influenced just enough people to carpool, travel off-peak, or bus or bike that the lights at 149 and 127 or the terwillegar bend become a bit more bearable while also building bank account to fix them someday?

  88. #88
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    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    Thanks for the hilariously off-base attempted insult, though.
    Were you referring to your post in this?

    Quote:
    Great selective reading and willful ignorance going on in this thread. Could be a case-study in cognitive dissonance.

    This is a carbon copy of the global warming "debate". Overwhelming evidence on one side, willful ignorance backed up by bizarre, feeble emotional arguments on the other.
    Maybe you should consider what you are saying first?
    No, I was referring to your hilariously off-base personal insult which only served to showcase that you have nothing to add here.

    Maybe you should consider what you're saying beyond your emotional reaction to hearing "tolls". You do not have evidence on your side.

    As to those saying we should eliminate transit fees: I disagree, because that eliminates benefits of efficient economic decision making and leads to overconsumption. The real cost of transportation should always be reflected in its usage, as a rule. This also boils down to the efficient use of land. Subsidized transportation in any way manipulates the property market and causes sprawl - even public transit.

    I do agree that disadvantaged people should get free passes, but that is a moral/ethical standpoint not an economic or sound planning one.
    Last edited by Jaerdo; 04-04-2016 at 01:28 PM.

  89. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jaerdo View Post
    ^^ In the theoretical example, the tolls for a local road would be extremely small given much less wear and tear, and that new ones should be built by developers. In that case you might even be right, the cost of administering the toll might be higher than the amount collected.

    Regardless though, that is just theory and no one is honestly suggesting that all roads everywhere should or even could be tolled right now.

    Regarding shortcutting, the vast majority of people do not attempt to avoid tolls. Some people do, but they generally get frustrated after trying it for a while and decide that the road is worth it.

    It will equalize long-term, and is working as intended by making people honestly question whether driving is worth the cost of paying for the road. That is the "economic decision making" benefit of toll roads - people are confronted with the real cost of their decision to drive every time they go on the road.

    The vast majority of people will not, and you won't either after a couple months of grudge-driving yourself an extra 20 minutes away. If you can't stomach being faced with the cost of your decision to drive, maybe you shouldn't drive at all. You're missing the point with "measuring volume". This is about economic decision making, which evidently is going over your head.

    I take everything you say with a grain of salt, because I know how strong your anti-evidence, anti-reality bias is.
    People do change routes to avoid tolls. Whether they are acting rationally is anybody's guess, but they do. New tolled (and wider) bridges in the Vancouver metro have fewer people crossing than on the old congested spans while use at the remaining old free but congested spans is up.

    To me that is the one issue with implementing tolls today, besides politics, of course.

  90. #90
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    The number of people that attempt to avoid tolls always spikes, but it will equalize in the long-term. It is usually done out of spite for the new system. New entrants to the market just utilize the fastest route. The congestion you speak of is the natural deterrent to avoidance.

  91. #91

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    Tolls wouldn't work with any current roads in the city. I can see tolls on the Henday though. They have the room to build toll sections that would go longer distances. Build the current Henday to 3 lanes on each direction then build a whole new two lanes off by itself dedicated to the toll. All the current overpasses would be access points to get on it but the only off ramps are to major Highways. If you don't want to pay then take the normal Henday. With the amount of traffic that is projected I can see this happening.

  92. #92

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    All the C of E every comes up with is ways to gouge money off people. They cannot budget with what they have so they dream up extra ways to tax us (yes, tolls by any other name is still taxation). If they want to be crafty about things they just change things around. What was once on you property tax bill now gets put on your utility bill and they hope no one will notice. City admins. need to get a grip. The general public is tired of paying the freight because you don't know how to manage a city on the many, many taxes, user fees, fines, surcharges or whatever name you use to fleece us.
    All a toll will do is pee people off. Then they will just use roads that you do not have to pay to go on. This in turn will cause more congestion, more waits in traffic which will cause more engine idling which in turn will cause more pollution and more wear and tear on those roads. Shove the toll tax and try to make do with the millions you already get from your citizens. Or better yet, try to find admins. that can.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

  93. #93

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    Eventually, maybe in 20 or 30 years we'll see tolls as they are in some parts of Europe: vehicle size, number of people, type of vehicle, hybrid or not, distance, carbon levy, and more. Also in Europe I've seen roadside inspections, stop-checks, and speeding fines.

  94. #94

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    Soon every vehicle will be able to be tracked everywhere. Users could be billed an allocation for every bit of road surface they travel and even pay insurance based on each road's or even each intersection's risk rating.

  95. #95

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    And every moment we are speeding or run a light or....

    I see a huge cash grab coming.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

  96. #96

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    ^/^^ It's only a matter of when . . .

  97. #97

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Wilson View Post
    Eventually, maybe in 20 or 30 years we'll see tolls as they are in some parts of Europe: vehicle size, number of people, type of vehicle, hybrid or not, distance, carbon levy, and more. Also in Europe I've seen roadside inspections, stop-checks, and speeding fines.
    Just because it's done in Europe does not mean we have to follow their lead. If you stop and think of the myriad of taxes we pay at every level for everything (along with drivers licence and vehicle registration fees) we have given each level of government enough money throughout or lifetimes.
    We have roadside inspections here, usually when city coffers are running low and they send EPS out looking for vehicles with only one headlight working. Speeding, well most of us know Edmonton is the speeding ticket capital of Canada because of a lot of mis-placed speeding traps.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

  98. #98

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    From Allstate Auto insurance
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    The Real Question is, "Can you be a good driver for 6 months?"

  99. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gemini View Post
    Just because it's done in Europe does not mean we have to follow their lead. If you stop and think of the myriad of taxes we pay at every level for everything (along with drivers licence and vehicle registration fees) we have given each level of government enough money throughout or lifetimes.
    We have roadside inspections here, usually when city coffers are running low and they send EPS out looking for vehicles with only one headlight working. Speeding, well most of us know Edmonton is the speeding ticket capital of Canada because of a lot of mis-placed speeding traps.
    I agree, and don't want to see this sort of thing here; however, it's simply too tempting for the powers that be to reach even deeper into our pockets. It's all to do with 'safety' after all.

  100. #100

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    ^^The real question is 'what's in it for them'. If you have not claimed an accident in x number of years or you have claimed maybe 1 accident in 25 years I think it's safe to say you must be a fairly safe driver. As for the insurance company giving these out. Well, these companies run of profits so if they can stop accident pay outs they will be able to pay their shareholders more. That's what's in it for them.
    Gone............................and very quickly forgotten may I add.

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