Are Tolls a Better Way to Pay for Road Infrastructure than Taxes?


The Free Ride Is Over: Why Cities, and Citizens, Must Start Paying for Much-Needed Infrastructure (34 page pdf, Philip Bazel and Jack Mintz, Research Paper, The School of Public Policy, University of Calgary, May 20, 2014)
Also discussed here: Cities should embrace user fees to fund repairs to aging infrastructure: Report (Manisha Krishnan, Calgary Herald, May 20, 2014)

Today we review a report that analyses why user fees for municipalities are not applied to roads but are happily applied to other forms of public infrastructure such as public transit, waste and water drainage. The costs of road infrastructure tends to come from transfers from the federal or provincial levels (which as a revenue stream has been rising) or from property taxes with very little outside of gas taxes from the users. The result is that local politicians are shielded from accountability for the condition of roads and, as it affects property taxes which are higher in the urban core, people tend to accept commuting longer distances to buy cheaper properties in the suburbs – which only celebrates urban sprawl and congested highways leading into the cities. It also disadvantages those affected by the added congestion whether it is added congestion from the suburbs or the environmental and health costs borne by those living downtown. Other countries regularly charge road users for roads and bridge infrastructure.

As this report concludes: “To the detriment of their infrastructure, cities across Canada have made insufficient use of user pricing. It is time for a change.”

road user fees

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE

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