Scrap all road taxes. Scrap all vehicle taxes. Instead, charge people for every kilometre they drive, when the drive, and where they drive. That’s what the Dutch are promising to have in place by 2012. Of course, the idea of road tolling and congestion charging isn’t entirely new. We’ve seen it on a smaller scale in cities such as London and Stockholm, and in smaller countries such as Singapore. But the Netherlands, if it follows through, would be the first nation to develop a system that spread across the entire country.
Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I’m a big fan of congestion charging and distance-based transport charging scheme. It’s the best way to manage the growing problem of congestion in large cities and to get more people taking public transit (not to mention the best way to raise funds for public transit expansion projects). It’s just silly that in Canada our property taxes go toward road infrastructure, even if you’re a household that doesn’t drive much and uses mostly public transit. Makes sense that the more road you use the more you pay to maintain that road. At the same time, there’s no way Canada could embrace a cross-country charging scheme, given our immense size, but certainly large cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver should be seriously looking at this option.
NOTE: Here’s a recent article in the Globe and Mail about pay-as-you-drive road charging schemes, in this case discussing a pilot test of technology developed by Toronto-based Skymeter Corp.