By Tammy Flores
December 18th, 2013 Edition
407ETR has paid the Conference Board of Canada to do a study on how much time people save, on average, by using their overpriced highway. Vijay Gill, the Director of Policy claims commuters are willing to pay the toll.
Really?! I question that because if truckers, who can claim the expense as a write off, stay off the highway because it’s too expensive, how can commuters that earn on average between $15-$25/hour afford to pay $11/hour to use this toll highway? This new shilling campaign by 407ETR is outrageous!
According to the news agency, Global Toronto, Stephen Laskowski, vice-president of the Ontario Trucking Association says “No one doubts the time-savings benefits of using the 407, but when the cost of using the highway overshadows the time saved and eats substantially into a trucking companies profit, you predictably get what we have today – nearly all the trucks using the 401 or QEW and very few on the 407”.
If truckers can’t justify the expense of this toll highway, how can commuters? The study by the Conference Board of Canada is nothing more than a shilling campaign for the 407ETR.
Currently there is no accountability on how this company is tolling. A study is required on how much money is actually made from tolls versus interest charges and fees and also the financial feasibility of a private corporation operating and maintaining our highways based on the consumer price index and benefit obtained.
407ETR has increased peak rates from $.1625/KM in 2006 to $.262/KM in 2013. Never mind what they did from 1999-2006. This represents a 61.23% increase.
According to the Bank of Canada, the consumer price index for 2006-2013 was 12.11%. If 407ETR adjusted their rates based on CPI, tolls should be only $.1822/KM. That is a difference of $.08/KM.
Think about it. The average trip length is 20.5 KM times that by 2 and you would get 41 KM/day times that by 235 working days/year and the average commuter is paying $771 more per year according to the consumer price index. If you add to that the interest and fees 407ETR arbitrarily tacks on … you get consumers being gouged! This is worse than double taxation because not only do we pay for our roads and highways through the gas tax, tire tax, etc… but now we are paying a premium just to get to our jobs, not just if we travel on 407ETR, but on all the other vital arteries and highways because what 407ETR says is their “mandate” is actually their flawed model of raising tolls to lower congestion on their highway only, causing more congestion on other travel routes.
Without proper studies, are we supporting corporate welfare? Ontario has refused to hold this company accountable. Are they breaching our mobility rights? By continuing to turn a blind eye, this company smacks of a government sanctioned monopoly. That would lead us down the road to fascism not democracy. It is up to us to protect our democratic rights!
Nobody should ever have to pay fees or interest on a bill over a mailing error. It is not up to the public to make sure this company is operating their business properly. 407ETR has always had access to MTO’s database, but up until 2010, the company simply choose not to access it to make sure they were billing the correct person at the correct address. There is also evidence that suggests even after 2010, they still suppressed invoices for 1 1/2 – 2 years. They should not be rewarded for their failings in operating this highway.
Kevin Sack, 407ETR’s VP of Communication and Government Relations told us that they are in the business of collecting tolls, not fees and interest. If this statement is true they have an accountability to us, the people, to prove it and our government should legislate them into it.