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Road Pricing in Canada. Robin Lindsey Transportation Futures: Ontario Road Pricing Forum , November 13, 2008. Outline. Tolled facilities in Canada Costs of congestion in major cities Candidate road pricing schemes for Montréal, Vancouver and Toronto. History of road pricing in Canada.

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road pricing in canada

Road Pricing in Canada

Robin Lindsey

Transportation Futures: Ontario Road Pricing Forum, November 13, 2008

  • Tolled facilities in Canada
  • Costs of congestion in major cities
  • Candidate road pricing schemes for Montréal, Vancouver and Toronto
history of road pricing in canada
History of road pricing in Canada

(Broadly similar to U.S.)

  • 19th century: many toll bridges, roads & ferries owned and operated by municipalities and private companies
  • 20th century: Most tolls abolished by provincial governments
  • 1950s: Brief revival
  • Toronto: Last toll booth removed in 1973
  • Montreal: Tolls booths abandoned in 1980s
  • Current trend: Public Private Partnerships
characteristics of tolled facilities
Characteristics of tolled facilities

Constructed via diverse mechanisms

Coquihalla highway (1986): public

Highway 407 (1997): publicly funded, now private

Confederation Bridge (1997): PPP - finance, design, build, operate

All recently tolled facilities are new or reconstructed

limitations of road pricing in canada
Limitations of road pricing in Canada

Only 199 km tolled

Compare: Over 8,500 km. of toll roads in the US

Toll revenues of $469 million (2007) = 0.4% of total personal expenditures on road travel

Tolls are not congestion charges

Flat except on Highway 407

No dynamic pricing

Quantity discounts

Highway 407:

Privately owned and operated

Regulated via minimum annual traffic counts

Congestion relief on parallel facilities less than planned

need for additional revenues
Need for additional revenues
  • Declining cost recovery for roads (83%)
  • Large transit deficits (41% recovery).
  • Large transport “infrastructure gap”
  • Major investment plans for roads and transit (esp. Montréal, Toronto & Vancouver)
  • Federal infrastructure funds are temporary
  • Fuel tax revenues vulnerable to increasing vehicle fuel economy and alternative-fuel vehicles
  • Tolled facilities in Canada
  • Costs of congestion in major cities
  • Candidate road pricing schemes for Montréal, Vancouver and Toronto
transport canada 2006 study
Transport Canada (2006) study

Travel demand forecasting models in nine largest urban areas used to quantify costs of congestion in:

  • Travel delay (90%)
  • Additional fuel consumption (7%)
  • Additional greenhouse gas emissions (3%)
caveats re estimates
Caveats re estimates
  • City travel demand forecasting models differ
  • Estimates are of total congestion costs, not potential benefits from congestion relief
  • Estimates exclude:

freight transport

off-peak congestion

nonrecurrent congestion

congestion-related costs of accidents, noise, local emissions, road damage & behavioral adaptations

the case for road pricing in canada
The case for road pricing in Canada
  • As additional revenue source, satisfying user pays principle
  • For congestion relief
  • Pricing emissions and other external costs
  • Tolled facilities in Canada
  • Costs of congestion in major cities
  • Candidate road pricing schemes for Montréal, Vancouver and Toronto
candidate road pricing schemes
Candidate road pricing schemes


Cost-benefit analyses required

Main choice criteria:

Proposed by others (Montréal, Vancouver)

City topography

Existing investment plans

Institutional barriers

Details in Lindsey (2008)

candidate for montr al
Candidatefor Montréal

Inspiration: Mayor Gérard Tremblay, 2007 City Transportation Plan

candidate for vancouver
Candidate for Vancouver

Proposed in 1993 Livable Region Strategic Plan (Transport 2021)

candidates for toronto
Candidates for Toronto
  • 1. Kitchen (2008):
      • Major 400 series highways
      • QEW
      • Don Valley Parkway
      • Gardiner Expressway
      • Red Hill Creek Expressway
      • Lincoln Alexander Parkway
  • 2. Building 450 km. network of new lanes as
  • High Occupancy Toll (HOT) rather than HOV
general conclusions
General conclusions

Congestion imposes high costs in the largest Canadian cities

Toll revenues would help to fund road and public transit investments, operations & maintenance

Experiencein other countries sufficient to warrant consideration of congestion pricing in Canada

Main barriers to road pricing are public and (some) government opposition

global navigation satellite systems
Global Navigation Satellite Systems

Alternative to infrastructure-based technologies


Charging for parking, emissions & insurance

Distance-based charges

Supplement or replacement for fuel taxes

Environmental benefits and revenue generation gain importance relative to congestion relief

Case for Canada

Long intercity driving distances

High per-capita transportation infrastructure costs

Above-average susceptibility to global warming


Bryan, N. 1972. More Taxes and More Traffic. Canadian Tax Papers, No. 55, Canadian Tax Foundation, Toronto.

Kitchen, H. 2008. “Financing Public Transit and Transportation in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton: Future Initiatives”, January, The Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario (

Lindsey, R. 2007. “Congestion Relief: Assessing the Case for Road Tolls in Canada.” C.D. Howe Institute Commentary 248.

Lindsey, R. 2008. “Prospects for Urban Road Pricing in Canada.” G. Burtless and J. Rothenberg Pack (eds.), Brookings Wharton Papers on Urban Affairs: 2008, 235-293.

Mylvaganam, C. and Borins, S. 2004. If you Build it ... Business, Government and Ontario’s Electronic Toll Highway, University of Toronto Centre for Public Management, Toronto: University of Toronto Press.