The Gazette Op-Ed pages today are filled with comments about the concept of there being tolls on the bridges to Montreal Island. An editorial says, “Bridge Tolls? Why Not? Road Tolls? No Way!” And Henry Aubin suggests that tolls are not the way to go but instead there should just be a raise in gasoline taxes. I have talked generally about the idea of Congestion Pricing in the past as an option gaining credibility around the world. And all these talks of raising money are about how to pay for the massive road infrastructure replacements and repairs that are desperately needed in Quebec.
So there are three choices.
1) Putting tolls on bridges (and possibly all highways).
2) Raising gasoline taxes.
3) Congestion Pricing ( pay as you go in Montreal).
And if you answered all of the above you win the prize. The rest of you will just have to get used to the idea that while it will not happen overnight, it is very difficult for me to imagine a form of all three not happening 10 years from now. The city and the province need money and repairing and building highway infrastructure is not going to suddenly start getting cheaper. Gasoline may be out of reach for 25% or more of the drivers on the road today in 10 years. Something has to give, and it’s going to be the price ya pay!
And that, folks, is today’s doomsday report! (smile).
And perhaps the biggest concern for the future of our roads is who will be administering the tolls, etc? There are already companies who administer road tolls throughout Europe and it is starting to happen in US states such as Indiana and Colorado. The privatization of roads will make driving on them a privilege, not the God given right that we have come to take for granted. That could all be long term good news for cities as people and businesses may be much more likely to look at the urban core as the most practical place to be.