Montreal Metropolitan Community |  A tax per kilometer under study

Montreal Metropolitan Community | A tax per kilometer under study

More than ever, the Montreal Metropolitan Community (CMM) wants to implement a tax per kilometer, a project that has been debated for ten years. The organization will announce this Thursday the launch of a feasibility study to be published next summer, taking the example of Brussels to develop a management platform.

Posted at 6:47 am

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

Henri Ouellette-Vezina

“We are no longer at the stage of thinking about the convenience of doing things. We have to move now. There is an urgent need to act,” says the head of the CMM’s metropolitan transport team, Michel Auclair, in an interview with Press. He was thus referring to the anticipated increases in congestion in Greater Montreal, in connection with the major planned closures of the Louis-Hippolyte-La Fontaine tunnel.

His group recalls that 43% of the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted in Quebec come from transport, mostly from passengers.

It is absolutely necessary to promote the transfer to public transport, but for that we need services and adequate financing, and therefore new funds. The kilometer tax is one of the tools to achieve this.

Michel Auclair, CMM Metropolitan Transport Team Leader

“With the growth of the electrification of the vehicle fleet, municipalities must prepare for a reduction in gas tax collection in the coming years,” argued Mayor Valérie Plante, also president of the Metropolitan Community.

Since 2017, gas tax revenue has decreased by approximately 0.6% per year.

A call for bids in two weeks

As of November 4, the CMM will launch a call for bids to find a “consultant” in charge of carrying out a feasibility study for the implementation of a system of taxes per kilometer. The study will then be launched in January, to end in August 2023, with a proposal for a technological model, a management structure, but also a calculation of the economic impacts.

“What we want is to have a system that we can implement in two weeks, although we know very well that we will not be able to implement it tomorrow morning. The ball will be mostly in the government court for the future. This study, we hope, will promote the emergence of a consensus”, further illustrates the manager.

In mid-October, the montreal daily revealed that the Ministère des Transports du Québec (MTQ) was also studying various scenarios for new taxes that would target motorists.

The idea of ​​a kilometer tax has also been raised with the government, but is still at a very preliminary stage. The outgoing Minister of Transport, François Bonnardel, promised that these taxes will not see the light of day during the mandate that begins.

In Mr. Bonnardel’s office, we remain very cautious on the question of whether a kilometer tax could be in the plans. “The Minister was clear last week: it is not about increasing the tax burden of Quebecers,” his press attaché, Claudia Loupret, simply replies.

Get inspired in Brussels

The mandate that will be entrusted to it by CMM is based in particular on smart move, a smart app that calculates the travel time and duration of each motorist in Brussels, Belgium, and then rates them. The organization, created in recent months, hopes to “solve traffic jam problems in Brussels” and promote the use of public transport.

Specifically, the user starts the application by starting a car trip. You are immediately suggested to use another means of transport, but if you still want to drive a vehicle, then the counter starts. A camera system allows authorities to perform random license plate checks to determine if a user has activated the app. Otherwise, fines may apply.

You can learn a lot from Brussels. Ten years ago, when we started talking about the kilometer tax, the technology was not up to date. Technology costs were high. It is no longer the case now.

Richard Bérubé, CMM Social Development Advisor

The latter argues that “the big issue today is not so much technology as social acceptability.” “But to discuss acceptability, you have to dissect the behavioral problem. People don’t really know what it costs society to travel by car, unlike public transport,” says Mr. Bérubé.

“If we had the same visibility of the road network as public transport on costs, in short, if we knew how much motorists are subsidized to complete their journey, perhaps the discourse would change”, Michel Clara also evokes in this regard.

To date, the CMM refuses to say how much their future mileage tax could cost each motorist, but Michel Auclair says the goal is not to “strangle motorists”, but to encourage them to change their habits. However, two geographic scenarios are maintained: the first would include all of its territory, in addition to Saint-Jérôme, and the second would also apply the tax to “perimetropolitan” municipalities, located near Greater Montreal.

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