Tolls for high-occupancy lanes expected in Ontario budget
Published Wednesday, May 1, 2013 1:29PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 1, 2013 2:05PM EDT
The Ontario government has revealed that allowing solo drivers to pay a toll to drive in high-occupancy vehicle lanes will be among the new revenue streams for GTA transit expansion proposed in Thursday’s budget.
Finance Minister Charles Sousa said Wednesday that the high-occupancy vehicle, or HOV, lanes will still be available for freeaccess by cars with at least two occupants.
However, solo drivers will be able to purchase a transponder that enable charges for the privilege of driving in the HOV lanes.
“They will still be there for families that have two or more people to go for free,” Sousa told reporters Wednesday morning. “But if those that wish to use it, if they wish to pay for it, they are given that option.”
Sousa was clear that residents in other parts of Ontario will not be required to pay for transit projects slated for the GTA.
The government estimates that by introducing high-occupancy toll lanes it can raise between $160 million and $250 million per year.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said earlier this month that new revenue streams are required to fund transit expansion plans designed to ease gridlock in the GTA.
Proposals in the 25-year plan by Metrolinx, called “The Big Move,” include extending the Yonge Subway line into York Region, new rapid transit lines, a downtown relief subway line in Toronto and projects to make cycling and walking easier.
Tolls for HOV lanes are just one idea that has been bandied about for funding the project, as well as a fuel tax and parking levies. A report from Metrolinx on funding options is expected in June.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who the Liberals need to support the budget or their government falls, has rejected the idea of transit taxes, saying they will add to the financial burden on Ontario families.
The government is expected to unveil more revenue tools for transit and infrastructure expansion in the budget, which will be tabled in the legislature Thursday afternoon.
With a report from CTV Toronto’s Queen’s Park Bureau Chief Paul Bliss and files from The Canadian Press