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Toronto tolls may pave the way for road pricing in Metro Vancouver

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Summary

One UBC academic feels Metro Vancouver should move towards introducing variable pricing

Toronto is moving towards imposing tolls on two major highways in that city

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With the idea of tolls now on the table in Toronto, it may provide the push some politicians have been looking for to introduce road pricing in Metro Vancouver.

“I think many regions around the world are looking to variable pricing for the transportation system, including roads, based on peak demand,” says Lawrence Frank, a sustainable transportation professor at the University of British Columbia. “Variable road pricing real time information is now possible, we have the technology to do it, and we should get on it.”

In Toronto, Mayor John Tory announced the city is planning to impose tolls on two major highways to pay for transportation improvements and help ease congestion, thought to be the first in Canada on expressways cutting through a downtown core.

However, Frank acknowledges road pricing is politically unpopular in Metro Vancouver and it may be tough to get local leaders here to unanimously agree on a coordinated tolling scheme.

“It has to come from senior government,” he tells NEWS 1130. “If one jurisdiction comes forward where the constituents are very car dependent, they are obviously not going to like it. It has to come from a higher level of government that sees the benefit.”

Those benefits include not only a boost to the economy and an easing of traffic congestion, says Frank, but also a positive impact on public health by reducing car-dependence. “Road pricing is an opportunity to provide revenue to build transportation choices, invest in affordable housing near transit and reduce greenhouse gases.”

TransLink will be forming a commission next year to explore mobility pricing to help fund its next phase of projects, studying coordinated tolling of roads and bridges across the region.