Friday, April 18, 2008

Addressing Toronto's transit crisis

Great story in the Toronto Star today about the challenges facing transit in Toronto, and I'm sure that Ottawa could learn a lot from what Toronto does or is doing, even if Ottawa will be replicating it on a smaller scale.

The Goal:
"... a transit network so good people will be able to live without depending on a car and not feel deprived."

The Problem:

"Over the next 25 years, the Greater Golden Horseshoe region is expected to grow by 3.7 million people, to 11.5 million. How can it accommodate the transportation needs of that many people?

"The roads we have today will largely be the roads we'll have in 2031. We must learn to use the same space to move more people."

The Methodology:

"Transit can carry volumes of people that roads simply can't match. For example, the TTC carries about 1.5 million riders per day, more than the populations of Calgary or Ottawa. GO Transit carries about 205,000, taking the same number of cars off the road as the Gardiner Expressway carries daily."

The Challenge:
"To be successful, the regional plan must do three things: address congestion, improve the environment and generate new revenue sources to build a network capable of serving a future regional population of more than 11 million people. "

The Funding Options:

"No one likes to pay more taxes or fees, but combinations of several of these sources could generate an extra $2 billion per year. The extensive list of options that could be considered includes:

"Regional road pricing on the GTHA network of 400-series highways and municipal expressways.

"Local road pricing and parking space pricing similar to what the Netherlands is doing.

"A regional gas tax of up to 12.5 cents per litre, the amount now collected by the Regional Transit Authority (Translink) for Metro Vancouver.

"A regional sales tax of 1 per cent or less, similar to those already in place in Metro Minneapolis and proposed in Los Angeles County and Tampa Bay.

"A regional vehicle registration levy similar to the one passed in Toronto and used in most large U.S. cities.

"A regional climate-change mitigation or emissions tax, levied against less fuel-efficient vehicles, or even a regional income tax, like that in place for decades in many large U.S. cities."

There are many ways Ottawa can use this information, and adapt it to our needs. If Ottawa's system could make it possible for commuters to be completely independent of cars... I can only imagine how respected the city would be on the world's stage.

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