How We Were Sold on the Value of Highway 407


Is There a Need to Re-evaluate 407 ETR’s Contract?

 

When Highway 407 was being constructed, we were sold on how this highway was desperately needed to bring relief to our traffic congestion issues on Highway 401. How has Highway 407 performed over the past 15 years? We may never really know unless an impact study is done. I would love to see a study that analyzes how many vehicle kilometers traveled were on Highway 407 over the past 15 years versus the data that justified building Highway 407. Included in the analytics need to be the growth that occurred since Highway 407 was built… especially in the area of Highway 407… and how the increase in vehicle kilometers traveled has impacted Highway 401, the economy and overall commute times.

 

Despite the dreams of some Urban Planners, personal vehicle use is not going away in the Greater Toronto Area. Anecdotally, we know from Stats Canada that Ontario’s passenger car, new motor vehicle registrations averaged at about 283,013 cars/yr from 2010-2014, with 2014 reporting the most sales, 302,077 vehicles.

 

In the “Commuting to Work” results of a 2010 General Survey, Stats Canada Highlights:

 

  • In Montreal, Vancouver & Toronto workers living in the central municipality were much more likely to use public transit than workers in neighbouring municipalities.
  • i.e. 41% of workers in the city of Montreal compared to 11% of workers in neighbouring Municipalities use public transit.
  • Commuting takes longer by public transit than by car. 45% of public transit users had commute times of 45 minutes or longer compared to only 18% of car users traveling for the same amount of time
  • Overall 51% of workers said they were never caught in traffic jams compared to 49% that reported being stuck in traffic.
  • 85% of car users have the perception that public transit would be very inconvenient for them.
  • And this is just a thought of my own, although there are great transit initiatives being discussed and planned, transit is 30 years behind in the Greater Toronto Area. It will take a lot of time and money for our public transit to catch up. The stats show people prefer to travel by their personal vehicles. We cannot ignore the need for proper road infrastructure to accommodate commuters without gouging them. They are purposely placed in a vulnerable position that we shouldn’t allow to be exploited by companies whose main goal is to make their shareholders happy.

 

Below is a graph that was sourced through Statistics Canada by The Great Lakes National Program Office in the United States. In their State of the Great Lakes Report of 2009 they looked at the population growth and urban sprawl in the Great Lakes basin and noted that it led to an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads, fuel consumption and kilometers spent on the road by residents. Their overall assessment was that the trend was deteriorating road safety and ecological impacts such as climate change and pollution.

 

Please note also in the graph, the GLNPO reports vehicle registration from 6,329,052 to 7,854,228 during the period from 1993-2005. Of greater significance, for the purpose of this article, was that the greatest increase occurred in years 1999 and 2000. 407 ETR took the helm at the operations of Highway 407 in the year 1999. There was a 39% increase in vehicle registrations! The estimated vehicle kilometers traveled has continued to steadily increase since this report. Despite reports that the trend will be to ditch the car, the cold hard facts say the trend is continuing to be commuting by passenger vehicle.

VKT's_and_VR's_in_Ontario_1993-2005

 

Highway 407 was sold to us on the basis that we would have congestion relief on Highway 401. The following is some quotes from the Toronto Star from just before Highway 407 opened in 1997 and just after tolls were charged.

 

The Toronto Star, April 19th, 1997, Jim Kenzie wrote: “Open up Highway 407 and let drivers try it for free. If commuters fall in love with the tollway, it’ll cut traffic elsewhere”.

 

The Toronto Star, June 12th, 1997, Bob Mitchell wrote: “Toll Road Finally Open”. That article quoted excited commuters. They felt relief.

 

The Toronto Star, June 14th, 1997, Jim Kenzie wrote: “Highway 407 is worth it for free. True value will be seen in how 401 congestion is relieved”.

 

Then the Province started to charge tolls of about $.10/KM.

 

The Toronto Star, September 28th, 1997 highlighted a letter to the editor expressing concerns from reader Wayne Debly of Maple. His concerns were that toll amounts were 4 times more than toll costs in the United States. Remember, that’s when tolls were only about $.10/KM NOT the $.30/KM we are charged today by our Spanish Overlords.

 

The most notable article in the Toronto Star, was October 15th, 1997, the day people were charged to use the toll highway. It was a retreat back to the 401. Then Transportation Minister Palladini, AKA our “Pal” Al, drove the tollway during the morning rush hour with his successor, Tony Clement, who is now a Federal MP, President of the Treasury Board.

 

Minister Palladini, referring to traffic on Highway 407, is quoted as saying, “There’s no question traffic was very light, but once motorists get tired of getting stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic on Highway 401 and other routes, they’ll be back”. I will stress again, this was when we were only paying $.10/KM NOT the $.30/KM we are paying today. Have they been back in the droves he expected? Anecdotally the answer is no. How many times have you heard that Highway 407 was completely empty?

 

407 ETR’s business model is to raise tolls to lower traffic volumes on their roadway. The increase in traffic on the 401 and other vital routes was duly visible back in 1997 when we were only being charged  $.10/KM, how much more is that increase with all the growth that occurred? We need the answer to this question. We cannot afford to ignore this given the increase in the amount of Vehicle Registrations and Vehicle Kilometers Traveled that took place since 1997. There is a case to be made regarding a pressing public need to reign in Highway 407’s operators, but the powers that be won’t make it.

 

Comments of commuters in that article form 1997 were such that indicated the extra $60-$70/month it would cost them to travel on the highway could not be justified and that they would revert back to other travel routes.

 

Now, in 2015, we have people with 407 ETR bills that are as high as a small mortgage… $50,000 plus! That’s a far cry from the $60-$70/month. It’s unreal! When are we going to send a formal message to the Province of Ontario and the 407 ETR regarding the billing practices and spiraling tolls on Highway 407? The Province’s lack of action with respects to the abuse of the Plate Denial process by the 407 ETR and other atrocious business practices… this topic just doesn’t seem to be a sexy enough for some people.

 

With all the talk surrounding climate change, you would think that the public would be on board with any idea that would reduce overall traffic volumes on ALL the roadways. Instead we are duped into believing in a traffic management strategy that does nothing to relieve overall traffic volumes. As a matter of fact, this traffic management strategy Ferrovial, AKA 407 ETR, is selling around the world, by design creates traffic congestion to make money. They are taking millions if not billions of dollars to the bank. Literal highway robbery!!!! Is there a need to re-evaluate the contract with 407 ETR? I would say absolutely!!!

Feeling screwed right about now

Feeling Screwed

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11 Responses to “How We Were Sold on the Value of Highway 407”

  1. Al says:

    I had my account at over $500. Original bill was $25. I never got bills until I called them, only Because it was on my credit score. The original bill was from 2002. When I called them they transfered me to a person and she told me she was going to look into it. She called one day later and gave an offer of $200. I said no thy was still unfair. So I gave her a proposal of $100 no more. She said her case manager would look into it. She called back and the manager accept it with condition if I go bankrupt I won’t be getting the $100 back. So it seems to me like they know the judges are not going to play along with there games.

    Excellent work Tammy.

  2. TJ says:

    Home › Ontario › Superior Court of Justice › 2015 ONSC 4682 (CanLII)

    407 ETR Concession Company Limited v Ira J. Day, 2015 ONSC 4682 (CanLII)

    Date: 2015-07-21
    Docket: CV-13-115006
    Citation: 407 ETR Concession Company Limited v Ira J. Day, 2015 ONSC 4682 (CanLII), retrieved on 2015-07-24
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    CITATION: 407 ETR Concession Company Limited v. Ira J. Day, 2015 ONSC 4682

    COURT FILE NO: CV-13-115006

    DATE: 20150721

    ONTARIO

    SUPERIOR COURT OF JUSTICE

    BETWEEN:

    )

    )

    407 ETR Concession Company Limited

    Plaintiff

    – and –

    Ira J. Day

    Respondent

    )

    ) )

    ) )

    ) )

    ) )
    )
    )
    )
    ))))))

    J. Thomas Curry, Rebecca Jones, Emily Graham, for the Plaintiff

    Ronald D. Manes, Joshua Ginsberg, for the Defendant

    )

    )

    HEARD: August 6, 2014

    supplementary REASONS FOR Decision

    EDWARDS J.:

    Overview

    [1] In reasons released November 4, 2014 that addressed the timing of the commencement of the limitation period for unpaid 407 invoices, I stated at paragraph 58:

    In coming to the ultimate conclusion that the appropriate limitation period is one that commences two years from the date when a consumer of the 407 is placed into licence plate denial, I have also considered that to conclude otherwise would potentially result in a number of limitation periods that would apply depending upon who the user of the 407 was… [My emphasis, not contained in my in my original reasons]

    [2] Since the release of my reasons, the parties were unable to agree on the form of the order to be issued by the court. The parties have filed supplemental written submissions and reply submissions.

    Position of the 407

    [3] Counsel for the 407 frames the issues between the parties as to whether the court held that the two year limitation period began to run: (a) on December 31, 2011, being the date on which Mr. Day failed to renew his vehicle permit after having been placed into licence plate denial (as argued by the 407) or, (b) on May 26, 2011, being “the date on which the Highway 407 Act, S.O. 1998, c.28, enabled 407 ETR to place Mr. Day into “licence plate denial” pursuant to section 22 thereof, as argued by Mr. Day.

    [4] Counsel for the 407 argues that my reasons establish that the licence plate denial regime is triggered on the date of which the vehicle permit of a customer who is in licence plate denial expires without payment being made. Simply put it is suggested that this occurs when the 407 discovers its claim, which in the case of Mr. Day was December 31, 2011.

    [5] Factually, Mr. Day paid his last invoice which was owed to the 407 on December 21, 2010. His next invoice was issued by the 407 on January 21, 2011, and the 407 was notified by the Registrar of his failure to pay this invoice on August 10, 2011.

    [6] Fundamentally, counsel for the 407 argues that my reasons, particularly those set forth in paragraphs 52 through 60, illustrate that it was my intention that the limitation period would commence to run from the date Mr. Day allowed his vehicle permit to expire while it was in the licence plate denial process.

    [7] It is further argued that if the position of Mr. Day was accepted no limitation period would have expired, and that his proposed interpretation undermines my reasons and would require the 407 to commence litigation in circumstances where this court already found it would be contrary to the public interest in an efficient civil justice system.

    [8] Factually it is argued on behalf of the 407, that the 407 only learned that the licence plate denial process did not result in payment by Mr. Day when his vehicle permit actually expired after having been placed into licence plate denial. The 407 did not, and could not have made this discovery at the outset of the licence plate denial process.

    [9] The essence of the argument put forth by the 407 is that the vehicle permit expiry date, which results from the operation of the licence plate denial process, provides a plain and objective discovery date which is consistent with my original reasons.

    Position of the Defendant Ira Day

    [10] Counsel for Mr. Day notes that during the course of argument when this matter originally came before me there were four arguable options for when the limitation date commenced, those

    being:

    (a) the date of the invoice;

    (b) the date of the notice of the failure to pay;

    (c) the date the customer was placed into licence plate denial; and

    (d) the date that the vehicle permit expired.

    By reference to the aforementioned options, counsel for Mr. Day argues that this court chose the date that the customer was “placed into licence plate denial” as set forth in paragraph 58, reproduced above.

    [11] It is argued on behalf of Mr. Day that the position now taken by the 407 essentially seeks to have this court revisit the most fundamental issue in this case, and would change this court’s decision from a commencement of the limitation date at the time that Mr. Day was “placed into licence plate denial” to “the date upon which Mr. Day’s vehicle permit expired.

    [12] The argument put forth by counsel for Mr. Day seeks only to modify the language of my reasons regarding licence plate denial as the commencement date of the limitation period, to read the appropriate limitation period begins “when 407 ETR was able to place Day into licence plate denial”.

    [13] It is argued on behalf of Mr. Day, that the suggested change to my reasons will prevent a fundamental inconsistency with my finding that the two year limitation period under the new Limitations Act applies to the 407. It is argued that there is no requirement under the governing statute for the 407 to use the plate denial remedy at any particular time. As such, it is argued that if the limitation period is allowed to run from when the 407 choses to place a customer into licence plate denial, no limitation period would apply since it can chose to do so at any time or not at all.

    [14] It is also argued that the position now taken by Mr. Day will provide uniformity to everyone who uses the 407, such that the limitation period starts to run 125 days after default on a debt according to the statutory schedule, that is 35 days after the invoice is rendered plus 90 days after the notice of failure to pay could be sent.

    [15] The essence of the position argued on behalf of Mr. Day amounts to an argument that if the position of the 407 is accepted, there would be no effective limitation period since the 407 can unilaterally determine when the limitations clock begins to run.

    [16] Counsel for Mr. Day accepts in his supplementary submissions that the limitation period begins to run at the end and not at the beginning of the licence plate denial process, as that process is set out in the Highway 407 Act. It is acknowledged that placing a debtor into licence plate denial is the last step in the statutory scheme. The interpretation placed on paragraph 58 of my reasons, where I stated that the appropriate limitation period is one that commences two years from the date when a consumer of the 407 is placed into licence plate denial, is that the limitation period begins to run on the date that the 407 becomes able to place a debtor into licence plate denial.

    Analysis

    [17] I agree with counsel for Mr. Day that it would be contrary to my fundamental determination that the 407 should be allowed to place itself into a position where it can determine when the limitation period begins to run. On the other hand what lies at the root of my decision, as well as the earlier decision of the Divisional Court in 407 ETR Concession Company Limited v. Registrar of Motor Vehicles, 2005 CanLII 49963 (ON SCDC), 2005 82 O.R. (3d) 703, is the purpose of the Act was to not only privatize the operation of Highway 407 but take into account the open access character of the highway to provide the owner “an effective method of toll collection”. As I have already determined in my original reasons, an effective method of toll collection is one that has implicit in it a common sense approach to a reasonable limitation period that recognizes that the interests of both the 407 and the consumer need to be protected. As I further noted in paragraph 53 of my reasons, the most realistic and most common sense approach must start with the recognition that the 407 Act provides for a method of collection that ultimately concludes with the Registrar placing a non-paying customer like Mr. Day’s licence plate into licence plate denial. At that point in time, as I indicated in my reasons, only then would the 407 have discovered that unpaid invoices were not going to be paid.

    [18] Consistent with my reasons then, I am satisfied that the limitation period in this case commences from that point in time when the Registrar placed Mr. Day’s licence into licence plate denial. That date, as I understand it, was May 26, 2011.

    [19] It may very well be, that as a matter of convenience, it might be considered by the 407 to be an easier task to determine that a paying customer was not going to pay as of the end of the calendar year. The fact remains, however, that as of the date when the paying customer has been placed into licence plate denial, the 407 cannot say that it would be in any way prejudiced with the knowledge that the customer being in licence plate denial has two years from that date within which to commence proceedings. The draft order appended as schedule A to the submissions of the defendant Ira Day shall be issued by this court.

    __________________

    Justice M.L. Edwards

    Released: July 21, 2015

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    1 of 1 × “limitation act”

    So much for that the judge is still an IDIOT

  3. TJ says:

    Tammy…it is not the 407 we need fear it is our own stupid courts.

  4. TJ says:

    And this is a ruling we have waited 8 mths for…..myyyy goddddddd.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      It’s so obvious Justice Edwards is wrong. This needs to be appealed. Why are the judges afraid of 407? Coward is all I can say.

  5. TJ says:

    It is absolutely ludicrous that it took this judge 8 mths to simply clarify what he said way back when.

    Could have done it in day or two…..no wonder province is on brink of bankruptcy.

    Sure wish there was a way to remove fools like him from the bench.

    Perhaps our system should be like the US where they vote in judges and not appoint them for life.

    • Tammy Flores says:

      I was reading something in the Toronto Star today about complaints you can make against Judges. I am going to investigate that further because this is absolutely BS! 8 months for this makes me suspicious that he was waiting to be promised something. This judge can’t rewrite the law because this company doesn’t want to spend money to protect their bottom line. I am waiting to see if this will be appealed. It has to be.

  6. TJ says:

    It is too late to appeal, they had 30 days from the original ruling.

    This was just a hearing to clarify his ruling back in November.

    He was not considering a new ruling only thing is was spelling out what he meant by being in plate denial.
    That’s all Day,s lawyer asked for.

    At the very least he should have modified the ruling to stipulate they must put you in plate denial within 125 days.

    As it is there is no limitation period.

    The best he said was a reasonable length of time….that leaves the door open as I said in the SUN 8 mths ago.

  7. TJ says:

    We can only hope the Supreme court comes back with something more positive with their case.

    Although it will have nothing to do with the SOL.

  8. Theo K says:

    I was served today with papers that I’m being sued by the 407’s lawyers for over $5000. Most of this is interest the 407 accrued on my original bills from back in the summer of 2012. Plate denial didn’t happen until my birthday last September. I am the father of 5 children and am freaking out full of stress over this law suit. I’m afraid the judge will rule to have my wages garnished and if that happens it’ll more than likely lead to us not being able to pay our mortgage, thus putting a family of 7 out on the streets.
    I don’t know whether I’m going to need a lawyer (even though I can’t afford one) or whether I should just beg the judge for leniency that will allow me to pay only the approximately $1300 in toll charges as opposed to $5000+ the 407 is claiming.
    Please, can anyone help me?

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