Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Can we get cars to pay for buses? Should we?

In one instalment of Public Transit in Ottawa's ongoing "Funding Ottawa's Transit Plan" series, the possibility of having non-users, specifically personal automobile drivers, pay a levy which would fund transit plans. It's a possibility at least as interesting as it would be divisive, but there's no doubt it would help offset the investment in public transit, and encourage more people to get onto the bus or train.

Just a few weeks ago, British Columbia transit company TransLink's commissioner Martin Crilly. In his first review in the position, Crilly suggested three possibilities, including raising vehicle registration fees, charging road tolls, and increasing insurance as possible ways to, ahem, drive people out of their cars and onto public transit, according to The Globe & Mail.

The measure is one of several possibilities transit utilities are going to have to look into to keep up with operating costs--to say nothing of capital and expansion costs. According to that Globe story, increases in operating costs are outpacing inflation, fuelled by improving--and expensive--new technologies, such as the $12M SmartBus technology which the City of Ottawa's Transit Committee recently approved for installation on the OC Transpo fleet.

Traditional measures for dealing with increasing costs, such as raising fares, are not working for transit utilities, so this isn't likely the last we've heard of such measures. It seems probable that these discussions will gain steam in cities all over the world, and Ottawa will be no exception.


Anonymous said...

Isn't that what the gas tax is supposed to be used for? =)

WJM said...

Especially in Ontario, this would be a guaranteed way to chop public political support for transit at least in half, if not more.