Just as all-you-can-eat buffets end up making us fat, gas taxes create all-you-can-drive roads, says Bern Grush, author of a blog called Grush Hour.
The Toronto founder of Skymeter Corp. has an alternative: a GPS-based system that could apply a toll to every kilometre driven on any road, or every minute spent in a parking spot. Drivers would pay according to the area they’re travelling and the time they’re in it.
“Drivers who opt to take a vehicle into a congested place at a congested time are going to pay more than someone who decides to wait for a later time,” says Grush. “You would pay more per kilometre to drive at King and Bay than up in Vaughan.”
A Skymetering box in your car would record its position and movements, and upload the information to a data centre.
Five or six countries, mostly in Asia, are considering it, says Grush. It’s similar to a time-distance-place pricing program being implemented in the Netherlands that uses satellite technology to charge drivers motoring in congested areas, with fees reduced for “greener” cars.
The plan will apply to heavier vehicles in 2011 and all cars by 2016, according to a 2007 British report.
Grush says free parking just invites car use. “Just like the fuel tax structure, once you’ve paid, you’ve paid,” he says. “If your employer gave you a parking spot, you’re not taking the bus.”
We understand shoes and bread as commodities, he says. “What people don’t see is, road space is a commodity.”