September 13, 2002

Road tolls must be accompanied by financial accountability, say BCAA members

Burnaby, British Columbia – Members of the British Columbia Automobile Association (BCAA) are not opposed to paying tolls to finance new road and bridge construction, but they require assurance that tolls will be removed once the project is paid for, and they want a clear accounting of how toll revenue is being spent, according to recent survey of BCAA members.

The results of the survey were sent to B.C. Transportation Minister Judith Reid on Wednesday.

“While it’s clear that BCAA members aren’t averse to paying tolls, the
real issue is accountability,” says Bill Bullis, BCAA President and CEO. “When paying tolls, motorists want to know what they’re paying for and that they’re not paying for it over and over again.”

While BCAA members expressed strong opinions when asked about tolling new infrastructure, opinion was divided on when it came to tolling existing infrastructure. Feedback showed members almost evenly split in their opinion on using tolls to finance road rehabilitation or major improvement projects.

“We expect that the indecision on tolling major highway improvement
projects is based largely on the absence of precise information regarding pricing and timing of tolls,” added Bullis. “This further suggests to us that members need a clear picture of the costs and benefits of a given project – or of highway spending generally – before they’re prepared to offer support.”

BCAA’s polling also revealed that many members are unclear on the
potential impact of P3s, and that members strongly opposed the sale of
existing transportation facilities – such as the Coquihalla Highway – to private companies to continue to be operated as a toll facility.

Based on the member feedback, BCAA offered the following recommendations for the provincial government to consider in its deliberations on P3s and tolling as a means of financing transportation infrastructure:

  • Use tolls to finance new road and bridge infrastructure development, on the condition that clear financial accountability is provided together with a commitment to retire the tolls once costs are recovered.
  • Continue to fund road and bridge maintenance and rehabilitation from the proceeds of fees and provincial fuel taxes, and provide clearer information and accountability on how these funds are being spent.
  • Through public education and consultation, ensure British Columbians have a clear understanding of the potential benefits, risks and realities of public-private partnerships before P3s are offered as an option for financing transportation infrastructure.
  • Discontinue thoughts of selling existing transportation infrastructure, such as the Coquihalla Highway, to private interests to continue to be operated as toll facilities.

BCAA’s position paper on tolls and P3s in B.C. is available on-line at

BCAA is the province’s largest member services association with more than 715,000 members. Their web-site is

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