To Toll or Not To Toll

Today’s Metro Morning included a discussion of road tolls as a way to fund public transit.  Let’s put this in perspective.

The Gardiner Expressway report talks about a toll equivalent to a transit fare, and it would generate $130-million annually.  What can we get for $130-million?

  • Over 150 new buses per year, or
  • 15 to 20 percent improvement in TTC service, or
  • A 3 year project to build all of the eastern waterfront transit improvements, or
  • A 10 year project to rebuild and expand Scarborough’s transit network, or
  • A 20 year project to build the Spadina Subway to Vaughan

There is an unfortunate tendency to talk about funding sources such as tolls without putting them in context.  We know that the TTC’s own Capital Budget projections require about $1-billion annually for the next 10 years.  This includes about $3-billion worth of subway construction.

We keep talking about better transit, but we need to be honest about the amount of money involved.  $130-million a year is small change beside the Board of Trade’s estimate that congestion costs the GTA $1.8-billion.  Tolls might raise some money, but they are not going to solve all of our funding problems by a long shot, especially if we add major road projects like the Gardiner to our project list.

Any government thinking of funding transit has to face up to one basic fact:  tax revenue (whatever you call it) has to go up.  The only question is which pocket you pick.

Toronto International Film Festival Reviews — Part 4 of 5

This installment contains reviews of:

  • Dixie Chicks — Shut Up and Sing
  • My Best Friend / Mon Meilleur Ami
  • Fay Grim
  • Grbavica
  • This Is England
  • Zwartboek / Black Book
  • Snow Cake

As the Festival wears on,  I sometimes run out of steam (only 3 films on Thursday), and there was always the fear that the best of the Festival was behind me.  No chance.  There are some excellent films in this group. Continue reading

What’s Up On St. Clair? (With A Glance at Spadina)

Today’s Star has an article about the ongoing woes of construction activity on St. Clair.  I will leave you to read the text yourself, but there are a few important points that deserve comment.

The intention of the right-of-way is not to save time, it is to make the service reliable.

Well, yes, but saving time wouldn’t hurt either.  Indeed, if the service is reliable, then people would not have interminable waits for a car that eventually shows up as a pack.  This will probably save more time than anything else. Continue reading

Margaret Wente Rides the Rocket (Updated)

Today’s Globe and Mail features an article, in the Toronto section, about Margaret Wente’s week riding the TTC.  Wente, for those of you who don’t follow that paper, has written rhapsodies to her SUV, to the joy of driving the most environmentally unfriendly car in the city, rather than taking the TTC to work at the Globe.

For one week, she forsook her car and used the TTC (well, almost a week) and discovered how the other half lives.  In the process she made several observations that won’t be news to regular users of the system, but might actually embarrass the folks who run and fund the system for one or two moments. Continue reading