An unjustified 60% increase in the Highway 30 toll in two years

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Added on 26 January 2015 in Viewpoints

Marc Cadieux, President and CEO of the Association du camionnage du Québec
Martine Hébert, Senior Vice-President and National Spokesperson for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business
Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal
Éric Tétrault, President of the Manufacturiers et exportateurs du Québec

 

January 26, 2015

An unjustified 60% increase in the Highway 30 toll in two years

Beginning February 1, driving through the toll booth on the Serge-Marcil Bridge along Highway 30 will cost 60% more than when it was inaugurated two years ago. Such a dramatic increase will hit car and truck drivers hard.

The new H-30 connecting Vaudreuil to Candiac responds to a very real need. Every day, 12,000 vehicles take this highway corridor. Since it opened, it has become a gateway for merchandise travelling back and forth between Quebec and Ontario, the Maritimes and the U.S.
Highway 30 has also reduced traffic jams and made the metropolitan expressway system more efficient. Truckers can now bypass the Island of Montréal via the South Shore, significantly relieving traffic congestion, particularly on the Champlain and Victoria bridges. Furthermore, Valleyfield’s Monseigneur-Langlois Bridge sees a lot less traffic on its axial highway.

To increase the use of this corridor both by cars and trucks and thereby reduce congestion on other access roads to Greater Montréal, tolls must be reasonable and, obviously, must not be subject to sudden, sharp increases.

And yet for heavy vehicles, the toll rose from $1.15 per axle to $1.85. Which means that for a single trip with a seven-axle truck, the toll will have increased from $8 in 2013 to around $13 in 2015. Combined with the carbon exchange coming into effect this year, which, we need to remember, only Quebec and California participate in, the Quebec trucking industry is becoming less and less competitive vis-à-vis other Canadian provinces and the United States.

Given that around 80% of goods traded between Canada and the United States are shipped by truck, all businesses, and particularly small and medium-sized ones, will see their operating costs rise. This increase will inevitably have an effect on the cost of consumer products.

In addition to the impact on small and medium-sized businesses and shipping companies, the toll hike will reduce the appeal of this critical stretch of road. This was what happened in Ontario at the beginning of the 2000s, when tolls on Highway 407 increased 200% in five years. The result was unequivocal: cars and trucks avoided using the highway.

Tolls will be an important issue in the coming years. The decision to increase tolls is made by the Nouvelle Autoroute 30 consortium, which completed the project to extend the western portion as part of a PPP. And yet, the federal and provincial governments invested $1.5 billion in the project. Surely they must have learned from the situation in Ontario with the 407, and they are responsible for ensuring that the Nouvelle Autoroute 30 consortium does not abuse its position by charging excessive tolls.

This is why we are asking the federal Minister of Transport, Lisa Raitt, as well as the Minister of Transport and Minister responsible for the Montréal region, Robert Poëti, to intervene with the consortium to cancel this abusive toll hike. As suggested in paragraphs 29.8 and 29.9 of the partnership agreement for Highway 30, an increase in line with the cost of living would be more appropriate.