Itís True: Gasoline is Still Way Too Cheap

(By Bruce Rhodes. Published in the June edition of the York Region Business Times)


All one needs to do is look at the actions of motorists in York Region to know that the price of gasoline is still way too cheap:

- travelling at fuel-inefficient speeds of 120 to 130 km/hr on freeways;
- accelerating as fast as vehicles will allow;
- driving heavy, large, fuel-inefficient vehicles, typically with just the driver on board;
- sitting in parking lots and outside schools, with engines idling for minutes at a time, when it is neither too cold nor too hot to run the heater or the air conditioner.

I would support legislation to introduce a tax on every litre of fossil fuel sold in Ontario. I'd start the tax at five cents per litre, and raise it by another five cents every six months until it reached a dollar a litre. The purpose of the tax would be to send a market signal to consumers that the total true costs of burning fossil fuels (largely air and ground pollution) currently exceed the price paid at the pump. The gradual implementation of the tax would give motorists a chance to switch to more efficient vehicles as their existing ones wore out. Car companies interested in catering to the Ontario market would be wise to be mindful of the planned fuel price increase, and promote their most efficient vehicles.

The above fuel pricing policy, in concert with the introduction of an enforced 90 km/hour speed limit on 400-series highways, represents a more sustainable transportation model than the one in place today.

If it is true, as your editorial suggests, that drivers will always be willing to line up to pay no matter how high gas prices soar, then at least the above approach can help to fund provincial sustainability initiatives like public transit. The hope of many of us, however, is that drivers will ultimately resist higher fuel prices, and will choose to consume less fuel by slowing down, idling less, and driving more efficient vehicles.