Transport Canada is warning travellers that they could be fined for using the toll roads to travel to Canada’s west coast.
The warning came Monday from Transportation Safety Board president Paul Chantelois, who said the agency has received complaints from drivers who say they are being charged more than $50 for using toll roads.
“The issue is not a question of congestion,” Chantellois said in a statement.
“It is a question about fairness to the public.”
“It’s a real problem and a real concern to many people, because they see a lot of vehicles on these roads.”
He added that Transport Canada has received more than 5,000 complaints since April about the fees.
The government is investigating the issue and will be taking enforcement action if needed, Chantelleis said.
The toll roads are owned by the Canadian National Railway, which runs the country’s busiest passenger rail network, the Canadian Pacific Railway.
CPR has been paying the government for its toll road operations for nearly 20 years, but is now being forced to pay the money because the government is not providing an adequate number of inspectors to investigate complaints.
In 2016, the CNR agreed to pay CPR $1.6 million to settle complaints about the tolls, but the agreement was voided when the board found that the government was not following the law and did not adequately enforce the toll policies.
This year, CPR is paying $3.6 billion for tolls on its main line to Montreal and Toronto, and is expected to collect about $2.8 billion from tolls.CPR is also paying tolls to the Montreal and Halifax railroads, which are the main sources of revenue for the railroads.
Chantellees statement comes as the government considers whether to re-evaluate the use of the toll road system, which has been operating since the late 1940s and is used by more than 100,000 vehicles a day.
In a 2015 report, the government said the system was a safe and efficient way to operate the railways, which employ more than half a million people.