Commuter Parking for Metropass Users (Update 1)

Update 1, August 27, 10:00 pm:

After a lengthy debate regarding the fairness of charging for parking and various alternatives, the Commission voted 5-3 this evening to implement the staff recommendations.

Original post:

Today, the TTC will consider a proposal to eliminate free parking for Metropass users at its lots.  When I first heard of this, my reaction was supportive because, as a non-driver, I don’t benefit from whatever subsidy the parking lots represent.  Some media comments have placed this subsidy as high as $7 per user per day, an unconscionable amount of subsidy that would be intolerable if “parking” were a proposed new route.

However, looking closely at the figures reveals a different story.

The TTC loses $3.6-million annually on parking operations on a total budget of $6.3-million.  In other words, the cost recovery is about 43 percent.  Things don’t look too good yet.

However, there are 14,000 parking spaces and this means that the loss per space is about $250 per year, or about $1 per weekday.  This is nowhere near the figure cited above, and is much more in line with a reasonable incentive to use transit. 

By analogy to bus and streetcar routes, the subsidies vary from route to route, but the network is most important.  At $1/space/day, this subsidy is higher than the average for many bus routes, but not completely off the map.

Conversely, if the TTC were able to fill its lots even with a parking charge of $2 or more, they would make far more than is needed to offset the operating cost.  Bluntly, the TTC’s numbers don’t add up.

Lest you think that I am an advocate for commuter parking, that’s quite another matter.  Parking lots have many undesirable characteristics including the poisoning of land for community use — buildings generating lots of pedestrian activity and a sense of neighbourhood.  New parking lots have property and construction costs, and if structures are involved, those costs will be substantial.

Even existing lots can represent lost opportunities.  When the outer stations on the Bloor-Danforth line were built, land was cheap and a lot of it was already in the public sector.  Parking was an obvious land use.  Only now, 40 years after the lines opened, are we starting to see development at some locations that should have appeared years ago if the common myths about subway stations creating development could be believed.  In effect, the TTC strangled development right where it would be most desirable by dedicating so much land for parking.

As an aside, I should note that some lots such as Finch are on land that cannot be developed, and this at least puts the Hydro corridor to some use.  However, there is a limit to how far east and west from Finch Station parking can be built, and sites like this are an exception in the system overall.

On GO Transit, the lots at stations are full by 7 am, and massive parking expansion is really not in the cards.  GO has more stations in industrial areas where high density residential development is less likely, but the problem remains that there’s a limit to how much land the transit system can dedicate to parking.

The real problem is that feeder services to GO and TTC stations leave a lot to be desired especially as demand on both systems grows, bidirectional travel becomes common, and frequent all-day GO service is finally getting serious discussion in transit plans.

As for the existing TTC lots, my position is this:  if they can be redeveloped both to liberate the capital value of the land and to provide more transit riders while converting sterile transit terminals to community centres, so be it.  In those odd cases like the Hydro corridor where redevelopment is not practical, let people park, but recognize that there are limits to this and that parking is not a panacea for attracting riders to transit. 

As always, good service is the key.

36 thoughts on “Commuter Parking for Metropass Users (Update 1)

  1. “However, there is a limit to how far east and west from Finch Station parking can be built”

    Sounds like a good use to put a ripped-out Airport rollercoaster… er… “peoplemover” to when GTAA finally goes self-propelled 🙂

    After all, it is designed to move people from parking to a transport node…


  2. Steve,

    In the longer term, I think most of us would agree with the intensification goal. However, what should be done before that can happen or at lots where that may never happen?

    I posted this thought over on the new Metronauts site:


    How about this, parking stays free for M/P holders; but given the need to get to lots early, the uncertainty of spaces etc.

    The TTC raise money by launching a reserve a spot program. Numbered spaces, closest to station entrances/exits.

    Say $50.00 per month, most lots might sell 50-100 of these.

    No increase for existing Metropass holders; and the Commission still collects six figures of net new revenue each year.

    Steve: Inevitably, there will complaints about people parking in others’ spots, and this triggers a need for somebody to perform spot checks. This really needs to be part of a review of parking lot security in general and how much we are prepared to pay (either as a subsidy or as part of the parking fee) to have the lots supervised. Of course the TTC doesn’t want to imply that this would prevent thefts, and therefore would not advertise this as a “benefit” of paid parking.

    As for short vs long term: We are not building any new stations within the 416 with large parking lots although some are planned for the 905. The existing lots should be redeveloped (that’s already in the works), but no money should be spent on finding replacement parking for the “lost” spaces.


  3. Thanks for the analysis Steve. Hearing Mr. Giambrone on the radio yesterday made me a bit suspicious about the mathemagics; and while there are operating dollars vs. capital dollars as an excuse for avoiding analysis, so far we haven’t put the WWLRT under rigourous analysis for cost-effectiveness though if there was a concern about a few hundred millions…

    At some point we may also hear comments about building parking garages at the more far-flung nodes if there are limitations (correctly) to how much pavement goes down. My understanding is that building parking structures is fairly expensive, and it’s more materials demand on Southern Ontario for car infrastructure. But if we’re doing these structures, it’s likely better to have them put out at the more far-flung reaches of the systems vs. in the core, though one commentator recently was praising the parking garage at Yonge/Dundas as being worthy of emulating. I disagreed.

    Would Metrolinx be comparing the costs of these parking garages with adding another GO train? or GO bus? Would more feeder buses into the GO and TTC nodes take away the parking demand?

    Steve: Metrolinx has not produced financial analyses of anything yet, and given the way that their white papers completely ignore local and feeder services, I doubt they have given any thought to the relative cost (and impact) of more parking at GO stations versus better feeder services. They’re big on “mobility hubs”, but a parking lot is not a hub in the sense their white paper describes it.


  4. I heard from a real estate developer that Warden Station is going to be losing some of it’s parking lot to build some high density residential units. I think some of the parking there is Metropass parking but he didn’t specify which lot was going to be developed.

    Steve: Current plans at Warden are as follows:

    The north lot will be closed and redeveloped.
    The south lot will be closed and a new bus terminal will be built on the site with an island platform. The existing bus terminal will be closed and the property will be redeveloped.
    New parking will be provided on the Hydro lands east of the station, but this will be smaller than the combined capacity of existing lots.


  5. Thanks Steve for that thoughtful entry. As I walked the 600m from my car in Finch East lot through Hydro One’s magnetic field to the subway entrance I was thinking that $6 is awfully harsh and would drive me to find alternate methods of getting to work. Having a Metropass and paying an additional $1 or $2 seems much more reasonable to me (although I like the current method most). The land is junk anyway because it’s under the hydro lines as you stated. It’s much better that my car becomes magnetized than someone’s blood cells!


  6. Many TTC lots fail the simple supply and demand test. If the lot is full by 7 AM, then they are obviously charging too little.


  7. I think the cost of the Metropass + premium fare sticker (or $100-109 + $32/month) is probably fair for Metropass parking.

    I also believe GO Transit should also decouple the cost of parking from their tickets and passes and charge a nominal weekly/monthly parking rate, with “pay-and-display” for occasional users. I wonder what their subsidy per parking spot is as well, I would expect that it would be higher.


  8. I have stayed away from transit debates over the last few days because as a suburban commuter, issues like these affect people like me the most.

    Firstly, I find it ironic that the TTC plans to close commuter lots while using the argument that parking is close to 100% capacity. During my experiences carpooling from Mississauga, while the Kipling lot usually is our first choice, the Islington lot is a convenient second choice. And even the Islington lot is usually full.

    Secondly, while we COULD have commuted via Mississauga Transit, the cons of that option is that it costs us more money as we need to pay a second fare. Added to that fact is that we were within a 20 minute walking distance to the nearest TTC bus (50 Burnhamthorpe) and it was prohibitive, time wise and cost wise, for us NOT to use a car to commute to the subway.

    My wife (we got married three weeks ago) also currently carpools to the subway. We currently live at Burnhamthorpe and West Mall and she would normally rely on the 50 and 112 routes to get downtown. While the 112 runs fairly frequently, it is often crowded. The 50 meanwhile is uncrowded at the West Mall, but does not run as frequently and apparently is subject to many delays. For the sake of convenience (and the fact that the one driving the car lives on Burnhamthorpe west of the border), she (and the three others she carpools with) also relies on a carpool and a subway parking lot.

    That being said, if you remove incentives to take public transit, more people will rely on automobiles as their commuting tools. This is especially true of charging metropass users to park at their lots. While my wife would most likely be inconvenienced by this, her co-worker with the car would be worse off. This co-worker also lives close to the border, either she has a 15-20 minute walk to the nearest TTC bus, or she takes Mississauga Transit which would add costs to her commute.

    As a result, if free parking were removed, the co-worker would most likely end up driving to the downtown core instead, where she actually has a parking spot reserved for her. It is already of great sacrifice that she chose to give up that parking spot in order to commute via TTC, and it does no one favours when she is being punished for simply trying to do her part in making the city a better place to live in.

    You state that decent service links would do a better job than parking lots. It would also help if this addition of service did not add significant costs of using public transit. Having the unfortunate few (who live close enough, but yet so far) to pay $6 (either by use of another transit entity, or paying for parking) is definitely a deterrent to taking public transportation. 14000 cars is enough to fill a small expressway, so consider the rippling effects on surface transit if these 14000 cars were forced to drive downtown instead of parking at a transit lot. With the expressways already over-capacity, this spells a lot of trouble for everyone, especially those who rely on surface transit.

    Steve: The underlying problem is that Metropass parkers represent a miniscule percentage of the overall TTC ridership, and this proportion will continue to drop as service and riding grow while parking supply remains constant or declines.

    I have the luxury of a counterpeak commute, but for those times when I do have to travel in the peak direction, it would be really nice to have a guaranteed space on the train. It ain’t going to happen, and I resent giving free parking that adds to overall TTC costs to a small minority (1%, at most) of riders so that they can drive and park.


  9. YRT/Viva is planning to emulate the Finch parking at the proposed Bunker St. Station on the Yonge Subway extension.

    Steve: That’s a nice thought, but since this extension won’t be open for at least a decade, I’m not going to make plans tomorrow.


  10. Steve, while I agree with your goal of reducing the landscape paved over for parking lots, I don’t think that’s the thrust of the arguement about charging metropass users at all – I haven’t seen a single proposal to increase charged parking spaces.

    My reading of the issue is this – parking at TTC stations is very popular and lots are usually more than full. Roughly 80% of these parkers have metropasses who park for free. Proponents feel there are fee-willing users out there who are currently denied the chance to park and ride because of space constraints. When Supply doesn’t meet Demand you have two options – increase Supply (which we’re against) or decrease Demand by charging people for the privilege.

    Those who make the argument that this is against the environmental goals of the city miss the point that there are replacement parkers for anyone choosing to forgo the paid parking and drive all the way to their destination (and then likely have to pay anyways). It’s reallocating the scarce resource of parking spaces from those who get there early to those who are willing to pay for it.

    Frankly, if the TTC can reduce the operating cost of running parking lots, or even (heaven-forbid) charge market rates and turn a loss into profit, then that will allow more dollars to be spent on the services that actually move people.


  11. Thanks for the reply Steve M. I am glad Warden Station is getting a new bus terminal. I think the convenience of having all the bus bays around a center Island, like Kennedy and STC, makes commuters transfers that much easier being more visable. I know Vic Park Station is getting rid of it’s seperated bus bays as well. Good for the TTC to look around it’s system and see what works and fix those that don’t to promote transit use.


  12. I am surprised nobody has yet to mention a very important problem … the 905!

    I live at Hwy 7 & Weston, a concession road north of Steeles Ave. I have a lovely VIVA service that can easily take me to Downsview subway station … and then continue my journey to Downtown Toronto.

    Everyone loves to talk about how the 905 does not take transit, but there is one massive problem. We have to pay a full fare when we cross Steeles Ave. It’s like a Berlin wall that divides the 416 with the 905. Why not build a gate too? 😀

    Steve: I prefer a moat with dragons.

    I travel downtown with another family member. That means there are 2 people heading the same direction.

    Now, which method is cheaper?

    Approx 2.50 x 4 (morning and evening) = $10.00
    40km of driving to Wilson Station with 2 people = $5.00 ($2.50 each)

    That is half price! In a week, that’s the difference between $25 and $50.

    The TTC should not be discussing such schemes until the fare boundary between the 416 and the 905 is first resolved. Until this major issue is resolved, nothing is going to change travel patterns because people will NOT pay more to take a BUS then drive. Even with today’s gas prices, it is still cheaper to drive down from say…..Hwy 7 & Yonge to Finch station.

    And here is a funny fact btw……there is a LOT of transit usage between 905 cities. Mississauga to Brampton or Brampton to Vaughan, etc etc.

    That’s because there is no extra fare to pay!

    The parking question has to be addressed, but not now! Nothing should be done until first resolving the greatest issue, The fare boundary!

    Steve: If you are travelling daily, you should have at least one Metropass between you as they are transferrable and tax deductible. As for driving, you are saying that the cost of driving is 12.5 cents per km. This is far lower than the actual cost of operating and owning a car. On that basis, of course it is “cheaper” to drive.

    On many occasions here, I have discussed various alternate fare schemes, and my preference is a single time-based fare where one fare gets you, say, two hours of travel. I don’t care where the municipal boundaries are. The cost of full fare-by-distance implementation grows every time I see a new estimate (more about this when I write up the TTC capital budget), and this type of fare penalizes long-haul commuters.


  13. If we really want to get people out of thier cars and on to transit, we need to provide them with reasons to do so. Driving to a station might be how to do it, especially for those who live in areas with bad connections (say, east of Morningside, or in parts of the 905). If we can get these people to park at a subway station, as opposed to parking downtown, then we can help transit as a whole.

    Frankly, anyone who’s willing to drive to thier local subway/train station rather then take the bus to get there is far more likely to drive all the way downtown then to take a “feeder bus” route. Making parking more expensive is fine, because it still allows people to park, but if you raise fees too high, you destroy that incentive.

    You can approach this from an ideological prospective and say that all driving (or all transit) is bad, or you can approach it from a pragmatic view that providing people with options (even if they decide to drive those awful awful “autos” for part of the way) as the best way to go.

    Steve: The fundamental point is that the TTC loses money on parking today, and that’s only the operating costs, not the capital. The cost of expanding capacity with a structure is anywhere from $20-40K per space. In other words, if you are an all-day parker, we have to spend an equivalent value to the cost of your car to provide you with a parking space.

    As for people driving to downtown, the amount of low-cost parking there is vanishing as lots convert to condos. The land is worth far more with a condo on it than your car, although I am sure that for a suitable fee, a reserved parking space could be arranged.


  14. I think that perhaps charging $2 a day, more or less, would be fine and it would not put too much of a strain on the budgets of people who park at the lots. Indeed, isn’t one lot a $2 lot right now without a pass?

    Maybe Metropass holders could be eligible for a discounted monthly parking pass? Say $40 a month (roughly $2 a weekday)… a pass that works like the metropass but is just for parking (and can stay in the car).

    If the TTC makes the discounted parking pass available only to those who sign up for the Metropass discount plan (where the TTC mails your pass to you monthly) that might be an easy way of managing it. Without the parking pass parking would be full price – $6 or whatever.

    Or maybe they have some way of integrating the parking pass with the Metropass?

    I think raising the price of parking to $6 might be a hardship for some and a disincentive to transit for others.

    $120+$100 (or $109 if not on the discount plan or $110 if using tokens) for parking plus a metropass is a lot of money a month and I can see a lot of people making the decision to drive downtown or to wherever they work.


  15. [I have deleted here a recap of my description of the redevelopment.]

    How can they close the bus platforms at warden and not have to renovate the station in its entirety. After all Glass doors are the only thing that seperate the bus bays from the actual station, not only that but putting the bus bays seperate from the actual station will cut off access to the subway.

    Steve: Access to the new bus terminal will be via an overhead structure at roughly the same elevation as the current bus mezzanine, but south of it. Instead of walking down into individual bus bays, you will walk/ride down onto the new island platform.


  16. I think Luke has it right. An idea that I have read has been implemented at the Metro stations in Laval is having a mix of free and paid parking. I belive the paid parking is under cover – and the free is outside.

    The pricing should be set so that the lot never completely fills. People driving from out of town (and not arriving really early in the morning) should be seeing these lots as a viable alternatives to driving all the way in.)

    Eventually, much of the parking land near stations will become more valuable as housing/offices and the TTC should sell it as opportunities arise.


  17. Steve:

    “if they can be redeveloped both to liberate the capital value of the land and to provide more transit riders while converting sterile transit terminals to community centres, so be it. In those odd cases like the Hydro corridor where redevelopment is not practical, let people park, but recognize that there are limits to this and that parking is not a panacea for attracting riders to transit.”

    Exactly what I’m thinking, the TTC is doing the exact opposite of what they are supposed to be doing. Imagine if they put a park and ride by the DVP by extending the Sheppard subway. That would be a huge boost. The problem is they don’t realize the potential of the park and ride. I’m afraid if this isn’t approved the fares will be hiked once again (and I don’t think Adult fares will be the only one hit this time).

    Steve: Putting in a park-and-ride takes land that somebody has to buy and convert for this purpose. That’s a cost that turns into a hidden subsidy for parkers.


  18. As always, I’m impressed with your analysis Mr. Munro.

    As a suburban commuter myself I am obviously concerned about this new fee. Until I got a car I took Mississauga Transit to connect to the subway. Spending much less time each day (and not much more money) I now drive in to the nearest lot. I have driven into work on the rare occasion, and for even less time (and only a touch more money) I can drive all the way into work every day.

    If the daily parking fees go up enough, it will be enough to encourage me to drive and forgo transit altogether.

    I appreciate that the TTC needs the revenue, but if such fees will be charged I would hope that services would be improved to compensate users or provide competitive alternatives to parking in commuter lots.


  19. I always love the arguments from people saying how their fare shouldn’t go to subsidize some service they are not receiving (in this case parking). However my fare goes to subsidize plenty of things that I do not directly benefit from:

    a) building accessible stations (including costly elevators) and using accessible vehicles
    b) bicycle racks
    c) kiss and ride areas
    d) the fares of peacekeepers and veterans on Warriors’ Day (Aug 16)

    Sure I am being petty on purpose here. I don’t mind these things being subsidized by my fare because it contributes to the overall good of the transit experience and system.

    Parking lots are a service that are needed by some (myself included currently) in order to use transit daily. If you want to charge me for parking, then start charging people with wheelchairs a loonie for using the elevator or charging a quarter for every time someone brings their bike on the bus or subway (it takes us space too). [Clearly I’m being sarcastic here, so no need to flame]



  20. So after hearing about how everyone will have to pay for parking I think is possibly one of the worst decisions the TTC would make. Even worse is the steep fare of the parking: $6 in some locations. For those who use it, the TTC is now more expensive than using GO transit in certain locations, especially without the express service that GO provides.

    Some may say that the amount of people who actually use the lots is miniscule, but one has to consider if each person who formerly used TTC parking (including those who carpool) were to now use their own automobile, the effect on surface traffic will be devastating. 14000 cars do take up quite the real estate. We are supposed to be finding ways to take cars off of the road, not put them on. Again, I’m not talking about just cars, all surface transit will now be inconvenienced with these extra cars on the road.

    Joseph C hit the nail on the head: people would rather drive down instead of forking out more money for parking or additional transit cost due to fare boundary rules, no matter how close to the boundary they may live.

    On the bright side, parking will now be freely available on TTC lots. Too bad they will be mostly EMPTY.

    I also hear that in light of this development, GO is also considering charging fees to park at their stations. If and when this happens, Toronto will choke on its own smog in very short order.

    Enjoy your gridlock.


  21. Stephen De Medicis: Great post, well said. Maybe we should start charging higher fares for Wheel Trans. After all they get “front door” service from point a to the front door of point b. Maybe we should charge them $6 a trip anyways. If they don’t like it, they can use a cab. Just like commuters who would probably drive to their destination rather than fork out $6 for parking. I can’t use the service, so why do I have to subsidize it?

    And why are we subsidizing those stupid digital infoboxes anyway? I never look at them, I have a watch which tells me time, they are just useless boxes of advertising on them.

    How about those “poor performing routes” on the TTC? Maybe we should charge more or get rid of routes like the Willowdale-Senlac, Silver Hills, Pharmacy, Bloor West, and a whole lot more I can think of. I certaintly don’t want my fares to be “subsidizing” the riders on those routes.

    Finally, why don’t we charge extra fare for users of ALL express bus services, not just the premium rockets, but for the express branches of busy routes? I’ve never used them myself, they don’t benefit me directly. I certainly wouldn’t want my fare to be subsidizing a small group of riders who would be getting a faster trip than the majority of riders.

    The argument certainly moves both ways.

    Steve: The distinction here is not that some riders are subsidized more than others, but whether the amount of subsidy is justifiable in the larger scheme of transit and social policies.

    WheelTrans costs a lot per passenger, and gets its subsidy because collectively we have decided that everyone deserves some degree of mobility. From horror stories I have heard, people on the regular system would be in open revolt if they had to put up with the quality of service WheelTrans provides and the way it is managed. Just last weekend, I was at a party where two people needing WheelTrans for their ride home had booked trips in advance. They live in the same general part of the world and were leaving at the same time. Two separate vans showed up. Don’t ask a private sector operator to take over this system as experience has shown they are far worse. As for cabs, many people cannot physically use cabs (the two in question at the party were both on wheelchairs/scooters).

    The digital infoboxes are not subsidized and they provide revenue to the TTC. The real amazement is that there are so few of them, and many stations (including the one at TTC head office) still have the old Metrons.

    Poor performing routes: Roughly speaking, a route is a candidate for cutbacks, or does not justify new service, when the subsidy per new rider (or reduced cost per existing rider) is greater than a threshold value. Some parking lots operate below this level, some above, and the cost is growing because most of the spaces are free. This does not include the capital cost of any new parking capacity should there be a desire to provide it. Parking would be a “poor performing route” for at least some of the existing locations.

    Express routes: The regular fare services run in corridors where there is both a local and a long-haul demand. It is actually cheaper to carry some passengers on express buses in these cases. The premium fare services are in corridors where there is an existing regular route and the express run handles those who want a faster ride and will pay for it.


  22. “On the bright side, parking will now be freely available on TTC lots. Too bad they will be mostly EMPTY.”

    You say that like it’s a problem when a developer could call that an opportunity.

    In any case, given that TTC is having capacity problems keeping pace with growth this is one way of keeping that growth in check (other than their other method – fare increases)


  23. Steve: If you are travelling daily, you should have at least one Metropass between you as they are transferrable and tax deductible. As for driving, you are saying that the cost of driving is 12.5 cents per km. This is far lower than the actual cost of operating and owning a car. On that basis, of course it is “cheaper” to drive.

    Myself and the person I carpool with have our own Metropasses. Most (not all) families with 5 people will have AT LEAST 1 Vehicle (again not all). It is a necessity for such simple needs such as transporting children or grocery shopping or etc. It will be there regardless. The cost is solely about the fuel and yes, it is far cheaper to drive when you carpool.

    It is more cost effective for me to drive to Toronto (cross the giant wall of Steeles) and continue on with transit then for me to pay an extra fare to cross a border. Driving all the way downtown, not sure if that is still cost effective, with the price of parking probably not…

    I wish the province (MTO) had carpool lanes everywhere and the DVP and Gardiner as well….that would be amazing! It would keep buses running as well….

    What this is going to cause is a lot of unwanted parking. I know of a neighbourhood near Downsview station that has a lot of street parking, provided that you walk a little. Same with Wilson station.

    I’m definitely sure there are examples like that all over the system. If the TTC charges for parking, people including myself will start to park on side streets.

    How sad it is that the TTC would rather ruin the peacefulness of neighborhoods then give some kind of parking incentive….oh well…

    Only good point i see in all this, Yorkdale has free parking any time after 9pm so if that applies to you, you can continue to park there with no problem…

    And as always….fix the fare boundary first then the TTC can do whatever changes they want to make….

    Steve: There are vastly more people in the 905 who want to park at a TTC lot than we have space to accommodate them. At best, the free parking is a benefit only to a fixed number of people who manage to get to the lots before they fill up. Many of them at locations like Finch don’t even use the TTC and are buying passes as cheap parking.

    As for Yorkdale, the Metropass lots will continue to be free in the late afternoon/evening as I understand things. Nice cheap shot, but wide of the mark.


  24. The brilliant part about this, is that those who will be angry over this can’t even vote the commissioners out of office, as they’re not Toronto residents.


  25. Don’t ask a private sector operator to take over this system as experience has shown they are far worse.<.

    I’m sorry, but that doesn’t make sense. At the very, very worst, experience has shown that certain private sector operators in certain conditions are worse — which, in each of these conditions may be due to various factors, include shoddy regulation.

    As to the private sector being able to do better: I mean, really, can they at least try giving Supershuttle a call? This coordination thing is kind of what they do. And experience shows us that, unlike WheelTrans, Supershuttle has had an incentive to do so efficiently.


  26. Stephen De Medicis was kind enough to point out he was being petty and sarcastic, and he didn’t even get into the issue of WheelTrans. I really hope to never need WheelTrans service, but I’m more than happy to help pay for it. I’d like to think it’s an issue of human dignity, and not a left-vs.-right thing. It’s worth noting that in the United States, federal law mandates WheelTrans-like “paratransit” service.

    Beyond that, expecting 80% cost recovery would be terribly short-sighted. My understanding is that many WheelTrans riders are on fixed incomes and are travelling to medical appointments. The overall cost of helping people get regular, preventative medical care is far less than the cost of dealing with the health crises that can occur if people are stuck at home, unable to afford the trip to their doctor’s office.


  27. Well i’m not sure if this was posted already but the TTC voted in favor of charging people with metropasses today (I just heard it on CP24). This is honestly the most pathetic and desperate thing i’ve seen the TTC do. It has been extimated in a report that the TTC will only gain 600,000$ by doing this because if you offset the # of people that will abandon these park a lot facilities and the revenue they will bring in. How in the world this alone will help offset the expected 20 million + the expect to pay in fuel next year beats me.

    Steve: You’re out of date. I updated this post last night, and there is already a considerable discussion thread.


  28. As long as there is a lot more demand for the lots than supply I don’t think we’re going to see empty parking lots when the charges commence. Maybe if the ridership situation was like it was back in 1996 that would be different – at that time attracting riders was the main priority, not so now, so the “need” such as it was, to attract riders with this incentive is no longer necessary, and the logical decision is to begin charging for the parking. I don’t see this as a “war on parking” or some other sinister plot, it’s a cost/benefit decision to reduce the cost of operating the lots.


  29. GO Transit considering charging for parking? That will be the end of regional transit. Using their own words, “The price of the GO Transit fare already includes the cost of parking. We will not be charging for parking.”

    Free parking is an “INCENTIVE” for “people” to “economically” use transit instead of operating their car to the final destination. Steve – you make a weak point about car ownership. Us 905ers don’t really have a choice owning a car or not – unlike the TTC. Most of us need our cars to get around from region to region, or even to the store. Some of us live in rural areas such as North Oakville, Milton, Georgetown, etc. You can only compare the cost of gas and the oil change versus the cost of taking transit. The capital expenses of cars is not valid because it’s a neccessity to the 905 region.

    I want to make my point very clear to all those 416ers –

    The PRIMARY reason 905ers choose transit to commute is that the transit fare is lower than the gas the car uses and parking space required to park in Toronto.

    Simple equations of the 905er (would choose cheapest):
    1. Mississauga Fare + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    2. GO Transit Fare + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    3. Gas for Car + Paid Parking + Time = $$$
    4. Gas for Car + Free Parking + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    5. Gas for Car + Paid Parking + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    6. Gas for Car + Mississauga Fare + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    7. Gas for Car + Free Parking + GO Transit Fare + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    8. Gas for Car + Paid Parking + GO Transit Fare + TTC Fare + Time = $$$

    Time is #1 factor. Cost is #2 factor. Convienence is #3 factor.

    If I were to travel from Milton to Mid Toronto by train, my equation would look like this:
    Gas for Car + Free Parking + GO Transit Fare + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    $40/mth + $0/mth + $250/mth + $109/mth + 60 hrs/mth = $399/mth + 60 hours

    If I took the car: Gas for Car + Free Parking (yes, I get free parking)
    $160/mth + $0/mth + 30 hours = $160/mth + 30 hrs

    Currently, if I parked at Finch for free with a Metropass:
    Gas for Car + Free Parking + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    $140/mth + $0/mth + $109/mth + 56 hrs/mth = $249/mth + 56 hrs/mth

    If I parked at Finch and took transit when TTC is charging for parking:
    Gas for Car + Paid Parking + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    $140/mth + $120/mth + $109/mth + 56 hrs/mth = $369/mth + 56 hrs/mth

    Let’s use the paid parking scenario:
    Gas for Car + Paid Parking + Time = $$$
    $160/mth + $170/mth + 30 hrs = $330/mth + 30 hrs.

    So you see here, lots of numbers but the ones that really matter is the last two sets.

    It is cheaper and quicker to travel midtown Toronto using the car and paid parking without the TTC and paying for parking at Finch. $330/mth vs $369/mth. 30 hrs commute vs 56 hrs commute.

    Why people are parking at Finch versus driving and parking downtown/midtown is that the free parking with a metropass is the most economic choice for commuters. ($249/mth + 56 hrs/mth).

    Simple math people! You just have to understand how the 905ers think. They will choose the cheapest and still keep their cars. You can call this the “laws of the 905”.

    Steve: All of this ignores a basic fact: GO Transit has been able to afford “free” parking only because its stations are mainly in areas with lots of free land around them that can be cheaply converted to parking. At many stations, they have run out of room, and the cost of adding capacity with a parking structure ranges from $20-40K per space. Moreover, this type of land use converts the very locations that should be the hubs of development into sterile lots.

    GO lots are full now early in the morning, and yet there are plans for substantial increase in GO capacity. Where are the people using all those additional trains going to park?

    Paid parking downtown is disappearing under condos, and there is a limited supply under various buildings, certainly nowhere near enough to hold all of the cars needed for people who work in them should they choose to drive.

    Your equations only work when somebody — the transit system, the office building owner, your employer — gives you the perk of free parking.

    The cost of time is something we all bear, and it’s part of the cost of living in a large region that has not developed its transit service to keep pace with population growth. Moreover, it has developed suburbs where car ownership is mandatory just to get around. Free parking lots are not going to make much of a dent in that problem.


  30. An amazing analytic post by Andrew. His basic assumption is correct: people take transit when it is cheaper, faster, more convenient than the car (or other modes) which means transit doesn’t compete for ALL personal trips (eg. 3 transfers) but many targeted trips (eg. subway downtown: Finch/Yonge condo residence to Bay/King Financial job).

    With time, the TTC will learn how to spur high-density development around their stations (they have their training wheels on now, unlike Hong Kong Transit~the only? revenue positive, no subsidy public transit system in world due to RE development fees; and our own TPA {Toronto Parking Authority} which have mastered the art of RE development). This will obviously create a pod on nearby residents who will walk to RT hubs.

    A second vitally important factor that Steve & I tirelessly advocate for is a time-based transfer that would allow unlimited (and cross-boundary) two-way travel that would do away with the artificial Steeles Avenue (and other 905/416 boundaries) that invoke a punitive to transit “double fare” and give 905 residents a less expensive option for an all transit commutes (local/RT/local) without need for their car from outlying areas (assuming all 905 areas have TTC-like RGS to improve local service, another must Steve never tires to remind Metrolinx.

    One might ask why should TTC care about 905 ring users… well if they don’t Metrolinx and MTO will; and better to accommodate incremental 905 riders than have it forced on it by the Minister to avoid effectively disenfranchise these users by not providing a cost-effective all-transit solution to their current mixed mode car~park/transit/return car round trips.


  31. Hi Steve,

    The two equations below puts the paid parking without using the TTC in favour.

    If I parked at Finch and took transit when TTC is charging for parking:
    Gas for Car + Paid Parking + TTC Fare + Time = $$$
    $140/mth + $120/mth + $109/mth + 56 hrs/mth = $369/mth + 56 hrs/mth

    Let’s use the paid parking scenario:
    Gas for Car + Paid Parking + Time = $$$
    $160/mth + $170/mth + 30 hrs = $330/mth + 30 hrs.

    In my case, I win double because I don’t have to pay for parking because the side street beside my work has free parking after 10am.

    Steve: As I said before, you are not taking into account the full cost of the extra use of your car which runs up more than gas costs. Moreover, $120/month (or $1,440 per year) would not cover the cost of building and operating the parking space if we were looking at expanding parking facilities beyond what is there today.

    Your transit pass, which would be only $100/month on subscription, is tax deductible at 15.5% of face value. You could be paying, net, only $84.50 for TTC fares rather than $107.

    Next year, the anticipated increase in the cost of operating the parking lots is almost $100/space, but none of this would be recovered from you if you park for free. The money would come mainly from other parts of the TTC’s operation.

    Finally, most people don’t have free parking on the street where they work. That space has a value too, in the sense that it’s hard to create street parking spaces out of thin air, and there may be better uses of the road than to store your car.


  32. Parking fees can be tax deductible too. I know of people who can count their parking receipts or passes as expenses (as long as they don’t mind keeping reams of parking slips). And they are not contractors running their own company. CCRA doesn’t seem to have a problem with it, must be the agenda of those damned Tories.


  33. So…I travel from Warden Station to Spadina Station. My nature of my work is such that I need to be at work at 10am – a recent change. I have no problem with the TTC charging $4 for parking – it certainly beats the $32 dollars (give or take 10-15 dollars, depending on where exactly you park downtown) the downtown parking lots charge on a daily basis. However, now that I often arrive at the Warden parking lot at 9am, it is often full. This is when you are faced with the following decisions – should I drive to Kennedy station? Fairview? Should I just drive downtown? Should I circle around the neighbourhoods checking the bylaw signs making sure I can park safely all day?

    It seems to me that a simple and obvious necessity is simply creating more parking spots. Why not a multi-level parking garage at Warden station or other stations? It does not make any sense to simply increase parking prices – if one cannot reliably park at a major entrypoint into the TTC system, why would anyone take the TTC at all?

    Steve: If anything, parking will continue to disappear at some locations like Warden where the land is more valuable for development. The surface feeder systems increases in importance, and considering that only a tiny fraction of TTC riders use park-and-ride, they won’t concentrate on that market. Parking garages, by the way, are very expensive and the capital cost of an individual parking space is over $25k.


  34. The solution to a lack of parking at a particular station is simple.

    Parking rates need to be increased until there are a few vacancies. Some stations are already $5 or $7; yet Warden’s lots are $3 and $4.

    I’d think a few complaints would get TTC to raise the parking rates and quickly solve this problem.


  35. In Dublin, Ireland, they have a system which indicates the number of parking spaces available using LED displays at various points, so if you are driving towards one car park which turns out is almost full you can change course and head for a different one. This is replicated online but is not available to mobile devices as they don’t tend to use ActiveX (a design choice worthy of the TTC!)

    However, ellen’s comment does not indicate where she is driving from to get to Warden and thus whether a connecting bus is an option. Adding more spaces might just get them filled with even more 9-5 commuters who used to get a bus.


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