HST steers one half (50%) of Ontarians away from the pumps

- Survey shows Ontarians will drive less due to increased gas tax -

TORONTO, July 19 /CNW/ - It has only been three weeks since the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) was introduced in Ontario, but residents are already feeling the pinch of the eight per cent increase in gasoline prices. A recent survey conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Retire Your Ride, Canada's national vehicle recycling program, uncovered that one half (50%) of Ontarians who own or lease a car will drive less than they used to due to the increase, with 16 per cent indicating they will drive a lot less.

The driving habits of lower-income Ontarians appear to be the most impacted, as three in five (62%) respondents whose family earns less then $30,000 say they will drive less due to the increased cost of gas.

"The effects of the harmonized sales tax on gasoline prices, combined with the environmental conscience of Ontarians, have caused drivers to re-think their transportation habits," said Rebecca Spring, program manager at Summerhill Impact, Ontario delivery agent for Retire Your Ride. "Shifting to more sustainable forms of transportation is both a responsible environmental decision and a win for the wallets of Ontarians."

For Ontarians who own a 1995 model year or older vehicle, the increased price of fuel is yet another cost they must incur for a vehicle that may already be expensive to maintain. These individuals already may struggle with higher than average maintenance costs and more frequent trips to the mechanic. By participating in Retire Your Ride, Ontarians can eliminate those costs and also be rewarded with one of a number of rewards available to program participants, including:

    
    -  Bicycles - A discount of $350 to $490 off of a high-end commuter
       bicycle as well as up to 15% off parts and services
    -  Transit Passes - Free transit passes in some municipalities
    -  Car Share - Discounts off AutoShare rates and memberships
    -  Cash - $300 cash

    Prior to the implementation of the Harmonized Sales Tax in Ontario,
motorists paid five per cent GST on gasoline. Now, Ontarians pay an additional
eight per cent when they fill up their tanks, causing many to consider
alternate modes of transportation. In lieu of driving, 44 per cent of survey
respondents claim they are likely to use sustainable modes of transportation
more often. Of these 44 per cent:
    -  32 per cent will walk
    -  16 per cent will ride a bike
    -  12 per cent will use public transit
    -  12 per cent will carpool
    -  8 per cent will car share
    

An even larger majority (59%) of younger Ontarians (aged 18 to 34) say they're likely to use these modes of transportation more often now that gas is more expensive. Two in five (41%) who say they will reduce the use of their own cars say they will walk more often and many will also carpool (29%), use public transit (23%), ride a bike (22%), or car share (11%).

"For those Ontarians who own model-year 1995 and older vehicles and who are looking to save money by switching to a more sustainable mode of transportation like biking, transit or car sharing, Retire Your Ride can help," said Spring. "Program participants that take advantage of our discounts have the freedom to experiment with new transportation options without making a large financial commitment."

Through the Retire Your Ride program, vehicle materials are removed, re-used or responsibly disposed of. Retire Your Ride's participating auto recyclers follow a National Code of Practice and ensure that materials such as oil, gasoline, refrigerants, mercury switches, wheels, and tires are removed from vehicles prior to scrappage in order to protect our air, water and land.

In June 2008, the Government of Canada committed up to $92 million over four years to the Retire Your Ride program to help Canadians recycle their older, higher polluting vehicles and make sustainable transportation choices, leading to reduced air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. The program runs until March 31, 2011.

About Retire Your Ride - retireyourride.ca

Retire Your Ride is a national program designed to effectively and efficiently retire 1995 model year or older vehicles in an environmentally responsible manner, in an effort to improve air quality and encourage the use of sustainable transportation. The Retire Your Ride program is delivered nationally by Summerhill Impact, funded by the Government of Canada and supported by a network of experienced regional delivery agents across the country, as well as a national network of automotive recyclers.

SOURCE RETIRE YOUR RIDE

For further information: For further information: Ashley Agueci, Optimum Public Relations, ashley.agueci@cossette.com, 416-306-6717

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