Sunday, December 17, 2006

407 ETR (Express Toll Route)

ETR 407 (Express Toll Route)

Yesterday, was the first time I drove the Toll Route (one and only toll roadway in Ontario) and it is a nice and smooth roadway. The toll route was constructed more than a decade ago parallel to Macdonald-Cartier Highway or Highway 401 to ease up the congestion of one of the busiest highways in the World.. Highway 401 stretch from the border of Quebec to the Border of Michigan, 8l5 km. Of freeways, but on top of Toronto Area it is always congested during rush hour, or during maintenance operations so the idea if building a Toll roadway parallel north.

ETR 407 was then “auction” to private company to run its operation and its maintenance on a long term basis. A Spanish consortium is running the day to day and the maintenance and the additional extension of the toll express as the need arise.

This is quite different than most U.S. toll roadways that collection booths are the norm. ETR 407 has none. Motorists get in and out of the toll express unhindered by stops for picking up a ticket or paying the tolls. Fees are collected electronically and sent to the users just like telephone or any household bills. Regular users may opt for an electronic gadget called “TRANSPONDER”that records all data as you get in and out of the Toll Express. For those without the gadget, cameras will record the vehicle’s license plate and bill the plate’s registered owner. Rates vary according to the hours of use. Rush hours is a little higher than slow hours. Most users of the toll route are business people where the fees can be claimed as business expense and employees and workers whose place of works and residences have close proximity to the Express or occasional users who have a flight to catch with not much time to gamble on the always not too sure traffic movement in a Free expressways. The only drawback is out of province motorists will be able to get away without getting billed as the management may have no access to other province or states vehicular records. Enforcement of payments is quite effective by the Ministry of Transport’s denying renewal of license plate, the same as failure to pay traffic fines.

It is only a stretch of 108 kilometers at present (some extension in the future, maybe) but it help ease up congestion on most Highways during rush hours. Traffic enforcement is still done by the Provincial Police on paid duty (extra) by the 407 ETR . Just like most freeways, it has multiple lanes on top of the city and start to narrow into four to three lanes out of the city. Just posted this out of curiosity. I have driven miles and miles of Toll roadways in the U.S. and it is a hassle because you have to pay or stop every time you get in and out, unless you have that EZ pass where usage is also billed. Well, I don’t think anymore toll roadway will be added to this one and only we have here in Ontario. Voters just don’t like the idea of paying enormous taxes on gasoline and other motor vehicles fuel and also pay tolls for the use of roads built by taxpayers.

Actually the succeeding government attempted to take back the ETR 407 from its current owner- management, but the contract between the previous Government and the ETR people is iron- clad and the government decided that the monies to compensate or pay for breaking the contract is not worth it. So far the ETR is run much, much safer, faster and the roadways are all well-maintained. In short it is run like a business, because it is a business...