Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Response to a CAA statement in the article 'Toll fees for 407 climbing again in 2007'

To the editor

In response to the article ‘Toll fees for the 407 climbing again in 2007’ (Toronto Star, Saturday December 30, 2006, B1), it is typical to see the CAA complain about the toll increase by claiming that motorists have ‘such a huge tax burden borne on themselves right now as it is’. Irrespective of how I feel about the 407 toll fee increase, this is just another example of the CAA being completely out of touch with the true costs of automobile usage. While most people realize the immediate financial implications of operating a car, there are unseen social and environmental considerations that have financial costs that motorists simply are not paying their fair share of. Perhaps the CAA thinks that motorists are already paying for the true costs of automobile use and these additional charges are truly a ‘tax burden’. Or maybe, they have made this claim so many times, that they actually believe it to be true.

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pnear said...

I disagree with your stance. Unfortunately there have been several taxes introduced since the advent of the automobile to ensure that automobile users are covering the cost of the infrastructure they use. Gas tax, PST on car sales, annual licensing of car and drivers, etc. Problem is, the government has been skimming off the top on those road taxes and forcing road development and repair to be paid for by other means.
I only want you to ask me for more money for roads once you can prove that the money I'm already giving you for roads is spent. Until then, think up some other tax but stay away from my car.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Peter. One way to deal with this is to privatize all roads and eliminate all gas taxes, etc. Drivers would directly pay for the roads that they use, just as they do for the 407 today. However it still makes sense to have PST on cars as there is PST on pretty much all items - I don't think anyone thinks that the PST you pay on a new car is targetted towards roads. Similarly licensing is probably not a huge revenue maker for the province as the overhead to run the system costs a lot. You could argue that other taxes indirectly go to benefit drivers - how much police time is to deal with traffic and accidents? If we had not cars then we probably would only need a fraction of the current poice force.

Jason said...

It's not solely about infrastructure though. What about the costs of climate change that come out of your usage of your car? What about the health care costs for the pollution that your car produces (not just for you yourself, but for others)? What about other societial costs such as water pollution or hydrologic impacts? Those sort of things (obviously there are more of them)need to be factored into the true cost of automobile usage.

Sure, you probably do (or come close to) pay your fair share of direct costs of driving through your taxes (i.e. insurance, gas taxes, pst on car sales, licensing). But do you really believe you're paying your fair share of other hidden environmental and social costs associated with your choice to use the automobile? Probably not. And the CAA most likely knows you aren't either too, but being a car lobbyist, they'd never want their users to realize this too.

It sounds like the both of you agree that people should pay the true costs of automobile usage. However, it's either the calculation of this true cost, or the collection/spending method of the money that is the sticking point with most people.