BRAMPTON, Ont. – The woeful state of infrastructure in the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area would not be so woeful, if money already collected from the trucking industry – and road users in general – went towards repairing and building infrastructure.
The point was made by Ontario Trucking Association president Stephen Laskowski and Canadian Courier and Logistics Association president David Turnbull November 8 at the second annual Moving Goods and People conference.
Laskowski pointed out the fees and fuel taxes collected from the trucking industry by the province of Ontario could fund between two-thirds and the total amount of its roads and maintenance budget.
Turnbull, a former provincial transport minister, said “I suggest all types of taxes from operating vehicles on the road should be dedicated to road and transit infrastructure renewal and expansion.”
He also said road tolls should only be allowed on net new capacity.
Greg Kraliz, national transportation manager for Nestle, said the province can also help improve the movement of goods by making long combination vehicle (LCV) access less onerous.
“When I look at LCVs on the surface, it looks fantastic,” he said. “As we engage our transportation partners, some of the things they push back on are the cost of the permits, the engineering costs, the start-up costs involved in getting that permit and layout on that specific LCV route.”
Kraliz also wondered if dedicated truck lanes could be a viable option in Ontario.
“There has been lots of expansion on the QEW with respect to commuter lanes. Could we do something for trucks, maybe alternate the use of specific lanes for trucks?” he asked.
He also said further investment in short-rail between Milton and Vaughn would be useful. Nestle sends out 14,000 trailer loads a year from its Brampton distribution centre and having a reliable short-rail option would eliminate a lot of congestion from local roads, Kraliz said.
Speakers also address concerns about various carbon cap-and-trade initiatives and how they will impact transportation costs. Laskowski said in Ontario, the OTA was successful in getting the province to funnel some of the money collected through higher fuel taxes back to the industry so it can invest in more environmentally friendly alternatives. Much of the funding will go towards encouraging the adoption of natural gas-fueled vehicles.
“My main message to municipalities is, natural gas is a bit of a wild card,” Laskowski said. “The government is doing the right thing but the truck industry needs the right infrastructure and you can play a part by working with various natural gas companies to get natural gas infrastructure into your region.”
Speakers also suggested Ontario should look to be a pioneer in developing autonomous vehicle technologies.
“I think Ontario should strive to be at the forefront of autonomous vehicles,” said Turnbull.
It was a sentiment echoed by provincial transport minister Steven Del Duca, who noted during a keynote address that Ontario is the first province to set up a framework for the testing of autonomous vehicles on its roads.