Canada Takes Another Step to Real Congestion Pricing

The effects of the recession are wearing off in the Great White North as Toronto’s 407ETR, the world’s first all electronic tollway, raises its toll rates to help manage growing conception. The news was reported in an indepth report from, the watchdog of the toll industry edited by Peter Samuels.

According to Peter,

“407ETR are raising tolls differentially to boost revenues and to manage congestion. Toll changes announced today and effective Feb 1 2010 see an increase in the main peak hours premium from 10.3% to 16.3% over off-peak. Peak hour charges in the regular or heavier trafficked zones (turquoise on the map) go up by 7.6% (from 19.85c/km to 21.35c/km in the more congested ‘regular’ zones) while the off-peak rate goes about 2% (from 18c/km to 18.35c/km).

“All cents are Canadian – currently C$1.00=US96c, so x0.96 to get USc/km or x1.55 to get USc/mile.

“In lightly trafficked zones (yellow on the map) the increase in tolls is 4.4% (from 19.25c/km to 20.1c/km) raising the premium over off-peak from 6.9% to 9.5%.”

The increase is applied to light cars and trucks, not commercial vehicles, suggesting the rise in personal passenger vehicles is the biggest source of congestion. Commercial vehicle rates are not going to change. Notes Tollroadsnews:

“Another important change is a big 60% increase in the trip toll charge for light vehicles from 25c to 40c imposed on top of the per-km charges. This adds considerably to the cost of short on and off trips. For example a 9.7km (6mi) journey between the H401 and H403 on the west side of Mississauga – the north-south dogleg – will now cost $2.47 or 25.5c/km v $2.18 or 22.5c/km, a 13.3% increase.”

Tollroad skeptics wonder if people will pay the tolls, but the time savings inToronto are significant:

“Three-quarters of users in a survey say they save 15 minutes or more per trip based on average trips of 20km or so.

“An independent survey found a 40km trip in peakhours (toll is $8.94) on 407ETR typically takes 25min v 58min on alternate free routes. If time in traffic is valued at $20/hr the time savings are worth $10. The study showed the average car on reeflowing 407ETR used 4 liters of gasoline v 7 liters in the ‘free’ route. Gasoline is about $1/liter in Toronto so fuel savings are $3 for the trip on the tollroad. Stop and go and signals wear brakes and transmission and use more engine oil which might add another dollar to trip costs – making the value of time, fuel and extra wear and tear $14.”