Monday, March 19, 2007

Today’s Budget Includes Free Roads

Image from ‘Through My Looking Glass’. I saw a similar sign near Yonge and Eglinton yesterday.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that a national road pricing scheme will not be a part of today’s Conservative budget. It wouldn’t be a part of a Liberal or NDP budget either. There are many advantages we would see from a system that made people consider their options every time they thought about going somewhere.

I suppose its part of our prosperity as a nation that so many of us can afford the energy required to drive a personal car everywhere. We can only afford it though, because of all the costs that are not passed to the driver. There was a report last year about the price of gas that would cause people to change their behaviour in terms of driving. My googling skills must be a little weak because I can’t find it now, but I seem to remember the key price point being around $1.60/litre.

Gas prices are a blunt instrument though. They could include costs for pollution, but the best goal is to get people to change their habits for commuting to work. If that could change, so many other benefits would follow.

There’s a new web site called Grush Hour about road pricing and everything related. It's based in Toronto, but looks at developments globally. Here's the description from the site:

This blog is dedicated to debunking popular fictions regarding congestion pricing, road pricing, road user charging, road tolling, free parking and entitlement to mobility.

If you’re a cyclist, you’re probably one of the converted, but you may be interested in seeing some of the many arguments in favour of road pricing. The writer, Bern Grush, is passionate about all the benefits, and I’m sure he’d like to hear your thoughts on the subject.


Darren J 3/19/2007 07:55:00 a.m.


I wonder sometimes about the price of fuel. The $1.00 a litre was a psychological barrier that has been passed and people still continue to pay.

Thanks for the Grush Hour link. Interesting reading indeed!
Yeah, I think psychological barriers matter a lot less than actual budgeting barriers. I assume that's where the $1.60 comes in.

One of the links from the Grush Hour site was to an article about the improvements in London, and how it only took a 20% drop in car traffic to have a massive impact on congestion. Imagine what that could do for our network of buses in Toronto, if people no longer expected to sit in a crowded bus in traffic.

Then again, maybe 20% isn't such a small number!

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