Why Not Apply the User Pay Principle to Road Users? A Case for Road Pricing

Who Pays for Roads? – How the “Users Pay” Myth Gets in the Way of Solving America’s Transportation Problems (45 page pdf, Tony Dutzik and Gideon Weissman, Phineas Baxandall, Frontier Group U.S. PIRG Education Fund, May 5, 2015)

Also discussed here: Report: 21st Century Transportation (Press Release, Frontier Group U.S. PIRG Education Fund, May 5, 2015)

Today we review an analysis of road costs in the USA (also applies to Canada) which shows increasingly that the tax on fuel for vehicles pays less and less of the overall costs for roads which include construction and maintenance, snow clearance, the health costs of air pollution from vehicle emissions, etc that amount to $10 to $40 B/ year attributable to driving. This is more than the costs of transit, passenger rail travel, cycling and walking combined. The balance of the costs not funded from gas taxes is borne by property taxes and general tax revenue which, in cities such as Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is more than the cost of police services or public transit. This is a clear call for road pricing which would relieve the tax burden of those who do not use roads and go beyond flat and partially subsidized road tolls.

user pay for roads

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

What are the Health Implications for Children in Schools Near Traffic?

Association between Traffic-Related Air Pollution in Schools and Cognitive Development in Primary School Children: A Prospective Cohort Study (24 age pdf, Jordi Sunyer, Mikel Esnaola, Mar Alvarez-Pedrerol, Joan Forns, Ioar Rivas, Mònica López-Vicente, Elisabet Suades-González, Maria Foraster, Raquel Garcia-Esteban, Xavier Basaga, Mar Viana, Marta Cirach, Teresa Moreno, Andrés Alastuey, Núria Sebastian-Galles, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, Xavier Querol, PLoS Med, Mar. 3, 2015)

Also discussed here: Monitoring Roadside Air Pollution and Urban Health Impacts (Pollution Free Cities, Feb. 15, 2013)

Today we review research into the impact on brain development of children at schools exposed to high and low pollution levels produced by traffic emissions in Barcelona, Spain. Results indicate that students in low pollution areas have almost twice the increase in working memory (11.5%) per year compared to children in high pollution areas (7.4%). This is a warning to urban planners concerning the locations of schools: locate them at least 500 m from heavy traffic or take responsibility for the health impacts to the young children who attend these schools. Unfortunately many cities have schools located on major roads with traffic (in Ottawa, for example, more than 50% of day-cares (and 20% of schools) are located within 50 m of heavy traffic).

air pollution schools

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

Are LRTs and Subways becoming Obsolete?

By 2040, We Won’t Need Subways (Candice Malcolm, Huffington Post Blog from Toronto Sun, Aug. 25, 2014)

Today we review a forward looking article which predicts that subways and Light Train Transit systems will be a fossil of the past when the technological revolution taking place in today and tomorrow’s cities replace them with driverless electric cars which are already a reality in some places. This outlook is not new to anyone who follows developments in urban mobility and makes one wonder about the wisdom of the Mayors in some cities, such as Toronto and Ottawa, where billions of dollars are projected and planned to buy obsolete forms of transportation that will not likely come close to meeting future demands.

English: A Tesla Roadster, Reva i and Ford Th!...

English: A Tesla Roadster, Reva i and Ford Th!nk electric cars parked at a free parking and charging station near Akershus fortress in Oslo, Norway (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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

 

How Congested with Traffic are Canadian Cities?

TomTom Americas Traffic Index (74 page pdf, TomTom, Jun. 3, 2014)

Also discussed here: TomTom Live Traffic

And here: Vancouver home to worst gridlock in Canada (CTV News, Jun. 3, 2014)
Today we review the latest report on Traffic Congestion by the GPS-maker, TomTom. The three worst cities in Canada are Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa where the average driver with a 30 minute commute encounters as much as 87 hours of delay each year. TomTom also produces real-time, live traffic congestion maps, such as the one shown below for Ottawa during the morning rush hour. The reddened areas indicate where there is a need for congestion charging to lower and redistribute peak traffic flow away from these road segments.

congestion Ottawa

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

Why Isn’t Canada Meeting Its Greenhouse Gas Emission Targets?

Allocating Canadian Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions Amongst Sources and Provinces: Learning from the European Union, Australia and Germany (185 page pdf, Douglas Macdonald, Jochen Monstadt, Kristine Kern, University of Toronto, Apr 2013)

Also discussed here: Kyoto Protocol (Wikipedia)

And here: State-and-Trends of the Environment: 1987–2007 Chapter 2 Atmosphere (44 page pdf, United National Environment Program, 2008)

And here: History of the Global Climate Change Regime (18 page pdf, Daniel Bodansky, 2012)

And here: 2014 Air Quality and Climate Change Management Plan (165 page pdf, City of Ottawa Environment Committee, May 20, 2014)

The quick answer to the question posed is: lack of engagement and consensus for action by the provinces who have prime responsibility for energy, environment and natural resources. Today, we review an academic report and analysis of the reasons for Canada’s failure to meet international agreements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions since the first commitments were made by the Prime Minister at the United Nations-sponsored “Changing the Atmosphere Conference” in Toronto in 1988 – where it was agreed that Global CO2 emissions be cut by 20% by 2005 but without national obligations which came later with the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. He made this commitment without having prior provincial support to do so – an issue not a faced by most other heads of government, even from nations with states or provinces, such as Australia or Germany (whose efforts to reduce GHG emissions are also analysed in this report).

The lack of national leadership (and mandate), the lack of provincial consensus and the difficulty in getting provincial agreement, even with a national coordination secretariat (which existed from 1998-2003), is blamed on the uneven costs for implementing  such a plan, with most of the costs and emissions coming from Alberta and Ontario whose energy and transportation sectors make up over 80% of the emissions for Canada. On top of this, the resistance of Canada’s largest trading partner, the USA, to agree to reductions has hampered Canadian efforts, let alone ratify the agreement under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions by 6% (base year 1990) by 2012. The current administration in 2011 decided to withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol and adopt a goal of a 17% reduction in total emissions (from a 2005 base year) by 2020, consistent with American plans, but again without consensus on provincial responsibilities.

ghg allocations canadaghg sources canada 2008

 

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

Why Do We Subsidize Parking for Public Transit Users?

The Dirty Truth Behind Park & Rides (Matt Steele, StreetsMM, Mar. 18, 2014)

Today we review some suggestions from Minneapolis where the proposal to expand their park and ride facilities is assessed in terms of what it costs to give the parking away free (when it costs $10 per user) compared to other more cost effective options, such as doing away with higher express fares at peak use times or producing more revenue from the lot areas than giving away parking. Bottom line is that the number of extra riders and revenue produced by free parking is less than improvements to the transit system itself which would make the latter more efficient and double the net revenue. A good question whether this arguments holds for cities such as Ottawa that are sprawled out over more than 2,800 km2 where some suburban and rural areas are poorly or expensively served by public transit. But it is always useful to consider impacts on ridership and the costs of subsidies in running very expensive public transit systems.

 

parka nd ride

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

Solving Congestion Problems in China’s Biggest Cities

A big reason Beijing is polluted: The average car goes 7.5 miles per hour( Gwynn Guilford, Quartz, Jan. 3, 2014)

Also discussed here: China’s Urban Nightmare: Gridlock(The Wall Street Journal, Jan. 2, 2014)

Also here: Spatial and Social Characteristics of Urban Transportation in Beijing(9 page pdf, Jiawen Yang, Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board,2010)

Today we review a report that compares the degree of traffic congestion in Beijing and Wuhan with large western cities that have similar trends on the growth of car ownership (and urban road building) with GDP and with the degree to which congestion has strangled traffic flows to a point where drivers in Beijing average only 12 kph. Interesting that Wuhan implemented a congestion pricing system in 2011 while more progressive cities such as New York City have failed to proceed with it as one of the most effective ways of reducing urban congestion.

Also interesting that Beijing’s twin city in Canada shares an almost identical ratio of km road lanes to urban area (of about 3-4 to 1), an indicator of poor urban transportation design (Ottawa also lacks modern Light Rail Transit, depending only on buses and planning to get a basic LRT system in the next 10-15 years).

 road density

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

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