Toronto congestion costs Canada $3.3 billion: OCEDAccording to new study by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, congestion in the GTA costs just over $3 billion every year in lost productivity. While the Toronto Board of Trade came to the same conclusion a few years ago, what is getting airplay in the media is that the report advocates for road tolls and congestion charges to serve as a transportation demand management tool. By increasing the cost to drive on our most congested roadways we may be able to shift commuter onto alternate routes, alternate times and alternate modes that aren't as clogged. Those who absolutely must drive into congestion would then pay the true cost of commuting (the environmental, health, social and industrial, and not just the cost of building and repairing roads through property taxes).
Road tolls are unpopular, and I'm not going to deny it - Human behaviour is to try to minimize things that cause us harm and annoyance. Any discussion on road tolls is usually met with a statement somewhere along the lines of "not until public transit is improved." Yes, we should increase the coverage, frequency and speed of public transit in the region, but I often wonder what level of service will be necessary before we have "enough" public transit. Is it the 25-year plan? The 50-year plan? The 100-year plan? Is "not until public transit is improved" just a stall tactic to defer the debate indefinitely?