Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) chief executive officer, David Bradley, says the federal transportation vision released this week does little to enhance road transportation.
Federal Transport Minister, David Collenette released the long-awaited federal transportation blueprint, entitled Straight Ahead. However, Bradley says the plan deals mostly with the federally-regulated rail and air industries.
“(The plan) touches on most of the old chestnuts and contains all the latest buzzwords, like efficiency, sustainability and innovation but once it veers away from the traditional areas of federal involvement, it is soft on new commitments and concrete actions,” says Bradley.
For instance, the ‘vision’ says that “federal responsibility for highways and urban transportation is minimal.”
The vision also clearly states that a larger percentage of fuel taxes will not be allocated to improving the national highway system.
“The government’s interest in investigating governance models for road infrastructure and urban transit should not create an expectation of change in its policy with regard to excise taxation of fuels,” the report reads.
“Canada will remain the only major industrialized country on the planet not to have a national highway policy, for the foreseeable future,” says Bradley. “The highway robbery inherent in the current approach to fuel taxation will continue.”
The vision doesn’t promote a modal shift of freight from truck to rail, as was predicted given some of Collenette’s past remarks in the press. However, the vision does call for “the more efficient transportation of goods.”
Toronto Mayor, Mel Lastman, was also a vocal critic of the Collenette’s vision, particularly as it pertains to road tolls in major cities. While it wasn’t outlined in the plan, Collenette said his long-term vision for the country’s transportation system could involve road tolls in major cities. Lastman tells local media it’s a “dumb” idea. However, Collenette says it works in London, England and it’s an approach that should be considered.
“Montreal, Toronto, or other larger cities may wish to look at the London experiment in the future because it seems to have proved fairly successful after just a week,” Collenette tells local media. “At some point, congested cities are going to have to take radical solutions. Some cities around the world are dealing with it in an innovative way.”
“How much business are we going to lose, almost immediately, with people not coming to Toronto for restaurants?” Lastman blasts. “If you pay $10 to $15 to come into Toronto, and a toll to get out of here, you might as well go to a restaurant in your own neighborhood.”
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