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Like clockwork, Highway 407 tolls will rise on Feb. 1, 2006, by 1.3 cents a km for cars and motorcycles, pushing the peak rate to 16.25 cents a km for light vehicles. Rates for straight body trucks will rise to 44.7 cents a km and to 64 cents a km for tractor-trailers.

The company that runs the toll highway, 407 ETR, is dropping its $10 fee for electronic access through a transponder device to encourage motorists to get transponders and use the toll road. The road is expensive compared to other toll roads in North America. Only California’s new toll roads are slightly pricier. 407 ETR stressed that the increase is for adding lanes to the highway. Under the terms of the 99-year agreement, 407 ETR must add capacity and ensure there isn’t congestion.

The McGuinty Liberals have fought 407 ETR to roll back tolls and stop any increases pending government approval. However, the Liberals acknowledge that 407 ETR has the legal right to raise tolls. The Liberals are also appealing a November 2005 court decision forcing the Ministry of Transportation to deny plates to those who have outstanding 407 billing charges.

Much of the Liberal legal action is posturing to curry favour with motorists. We are, after all, talking about the same government that is intent on privatizing every possible service in Ontario.