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Debate on Highway 407 Tolls
04/01/2004

The Toronto Star frequently collects feedback from readers on issues of importance. I was just reading some of the responses they have had on the 407 tolls issue, and some of them are rather interesting...

Here's another promise the Liberals will have to break. Seems like they stole the election with a slew of totally unattainable promises. As for the 407, lets buy the road back. It rightly belongs to the good folks of Ontario, not a business consortium. The 401 will then be a lot less congested each and every workday! And, by the way, shame on you, Mike Harris for stiffing us in the first place! -- Neville Driver, Toronto, Jan. 2

If the Liberals aren't able to fulfill some of their promises because of the surprisingly poor policies of the Harris and Eves governments, how is it that they "stole the election"? If the Tories had won, they would have been all the more guilty, since they tried to mislead us all about the quality of their governance. Whatever is happening in Queen's Park right now, I am completely satisfied that the most qualified party is running things now, and will do a better job than any of the alternatives.

More comments:

Take the 401! Stop whining about the 407, no one in the GTA has to take it. There are alternate routes. -- Navin Chari, Kingston, Jan. 3

Many people in this discussion have stated "just don't use it," "take a free alternate route." Until these people actually specify some of these supposed alternate routes that run parallel to the 407 but are not so congested at peak times as to make driving them utterly futile (i.e. 401, Hwy 7, Gardiner) their arguments are as empty as the Liberals' promises of lowering the tolls. -- Mark Carson, Toronto, Jan. 3

Most responses so far say 'boycott the 407' I say those people obviously live nowhere near the 407 which essentially has a commuting monopoly, you CAN'T boycott the 407 unless you want to get up 90 minutes earlier and get home at 7.45pm. We are being held for ransom, thanks Mike and Ernie!!!!! -- Dale Summers, Brampton, Jan. 2

How did people survive before the 407 opened? It wasn't that long ago. But now the 407 seems indispensible... almost worth paying 13 cents a kilometer for!

The best way to to bring down the rates and take control of that road is for the public to stop using that road except for an emergency. That way their revenues will go down and they will have to drop their toll rates and they will go into bankruptcy and the government can buy it back at 10 cents to the dollar and make it into a public highway like the 404 and 401. -- James Midel, Georgetown, Jan. 2

Yup, that's exactly what's going to happen. Because everyone agrees that the 407 is too expensive to justify using, right?

And here are a few more... these guys get it:

The whole idea behind the 407 was to have people who use it pay for it. As a user it's my choice and I will continue to pay for the use of it as long as I find the need to choose it. As for the Liberal promise, mark this down as another broken one. They obviously forgot to read the fine print when they had a chance in opposition. -- Graham Hanlon, Brampton, Jan. 4

The Tories said after selling 407 increases would be limited to 2% plus inflation annually. The owners of 407 say there's nothing like that in the contract. This is either deceit or the case of provincial employees being bamboozled worse than the Rim Parkers in Waterloo or the computer boys at Toronto city hall. An inquiry should be held to determine if this is fraud or incompetence. -- Jim Cook, Cambridge, Jan. 2

This is an absolutely disgraceful example of the mess the Tories left. To the Liberals' credit, they were NOT the ones who sold the 407 for pennies to private pals. -- Derek Lipman, Toronto, Jan. 2

After all, the Tories were re-elected by the Toronto 905 region, so suck it up and stop whining about it. It's your fault we're in this mess to being with. (I've always voted NDP) -- Arjun Singh, Mississauga, Jan. 2

Suck it up, 905 Toronto! Didn't you re-elect the Tories again in 1999? If you can't afford the extra expense, find some alternative route or mode of transportation. Chalk it up once again to the Tories and their love of private enterprise. -- Stan Laubach, Toronto, Jan. 2

Just pay the toll from your tax cut and stop complaining. -- Gabor Takacs, Toronto, Jan. 2

You get what you pay for. In this case, we're paying for a private company (whose main interest is profit) to maintain something which should have been built and maintained exclusively on taxpayers' money. This is what privatization gets you, and I don't see that there's anything the province can directly do about it, except *learn* from it. -- Toby Cox, Toronto, Jan. 2

It's not that I am in favour of selling off any public asset and letting the private owner charge whatever they want. But, this issue is found at the intersection of two interesting thoughts:

  • That the 407's owners are charging high tolls and that the Liberals seem to be able to do little about it can be attributed entirely to the Harris-Eves regime and their decisions. For a change it is the people who elected the Tories that are paying the price, rather than the usual Common Sense Revolution targets: innocent victims elsewhere. Still, I'd feel guilty for my schadenfreude if it wasn't for point number two...
  • Cheap sprawl is creating a terrible traffic and gridlock problem. The 407, even at these "high" rates, is offering a transportation solution that people are willing to pay for. Lowering the rates certainly wouldn't help make anything better. Lower rates would just ease some of the pressure and allow more far-flung building to take place.

My previous article covers what I think the rates should be.


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