The Psychology of Free Parking

Over the past week, since the TTC proposed, then approved, the elimination of free parking for Metropass holders, I have been amazed by the volume of comments on this blog, other sites and in feedback in the mainstream media on this subject.

Parking is something dear to the hearts of motorists, and taking away free parking seems to be on a par with kidnapping a firstborn child.

Several people commenting on my site have claimed that getting rid of free parking at TTC or at GO lots will drive people (sorry about that) into commuting all the way downtown even if they have to pay for parking. There is a long comment by Andrew currently at the end of the thread comparing the costs and time required for various types of trip (all car, part transit, paid and unpaid parking). The viewpoint embedded in his calculations mirrors that of many who write about the need for free parking.

There are several fundamental assumptions:

  1. The cost of the car is a sunk cost and has zero marginal value because the car is already owned as a necessity of suburban living.
  2. The combined cost of paid parking in central Toronto plus the extra cost of gas to get there is an offset against TTC fares plus paid parking at a TTC lot.
  3. All things being equal, time saving takes precedence, and someone with a car will drive all the way. Therefore, charging for parking runs counter to the goal of getting more people on transit and off of the highways.

First let’s look at the cost of owning a car. This is composed of a capital and debt service cost, plus ongoing running and maintenance. If someone’s commute is only slightly shortened by parking at a lot (say someone who drives from Newmarket or beyond to Finch Station versus downtown), then the mileage saving from parking is comparatively low. However, if they have a parking lot near home at, say, a GO station, then the mileage saving is considerable.

Reduced mileage does not just save on gas, it lowers maintenance costs and extends the life of the vehicle. In some cases, although this may be the exception, the nature of the vehicle use may entitle the owner to lower premiums.

This analysis argues for minimizing the portion of a trip made by car and brings us to the problem of a lifestyle dependent on a car for the local trip from home.  Either transit service is poor, or other errands like child care, shopping, etc., require the car are an integral part of the trip. It also argues for pushing high-speed commuter services out as far and on as many corridors as possible to maximize coverage.

Some commuters will have this sort of requirement as part of their everyday trip (dropping off and picking up children, for example), but not everyone.  To the degree that the need for a drive to a transit station can be reduced, this also will serve the goal of trip diversion from cars to transit.  The question then becomes whether free parking or better local transit serves that end more cost-effectively.

Paid parking in central Toronto is available to some, but certainly not all commuters.  There simply isn’t enough of it to serve all of the people who might use it even if this were the most attractive commuting option.  Many surface lots are disappearing under construction.  Just this morning I passed a location near the Toronto Sun building on King Street East where there are three buildings going up, and more sites with development proposal signs nearby.  The land is far more valuable to its owners (who are not, by the way, subject to any sort of public-spirited motive or obligation to provide parking to commuters) as a building site.  Availability of parking near someone’s work location is essential for this model to work, and availability in the core is dropping fast.

Time is important to everyone, transit riders included.  Even I, the diehard transit advocate, know the difference between a fast ride on a subway line and the dawdling pace of a bus or streetcar sitting in mixed traffic compounded by the annoyance of being squashed into overcrowded vehicles.  Who wouldn’t take an express, private trip if they could afford it?

When someone proposes a new or increased fee on car use, the responses are fast, angry and politically polarized.  No politician is in a position to do anything about the price of gasoline, and the amounts of tax that have been proposed as a transit support (a dime a litre or less) are trivial compared with increases from market forces.  Insurance costs are set by private markets too, and they reflect both the increasing congestion (and subsequent accidents) as well as the cost of repairing modern vehicles.  This is the free market at work in the best tradition of conservative thinking.

Take away free parking, however, and that’s something we can all blame on those horrible lefties.  This is a point at which opponents of schemes to charge for parking undermine their own cause.  “It’s all the fault of David Miller and his NDP friends on Council” is a claim I read in many blogs.  That may be true, but only because they happen to be the group in power today.  Does anyone honestly expect that a Tory regime (in both senses of that phrase) would start building free parking lots all over the city?

One important direction from the “blue-ribbon panel” who reviewed Toronto’s finances was that the city should get more value out of its assets.  One of those assets is the acres of parking lots it owns in prime locations.  Their value, and who benefits from it, depends on how you look at them.  They could be development sites sold for a one-time realization of capital, ongoing tax revenue and a source of ready customers for the TTC.  That’s the sort of analysis one hears from hard-nosed business folk, not just the NDP rabble.

Even free parking in the suburbs around malls will start disappearing.  That land is much more valuable for development, and mall owners know that if what they have to offer is sufficiently attractive to shoppers, then people will happily pay to park in their lots.  Downtown malls like the Eaton Centre don’t need to offer free parking because (a) people want to go there no matter what and (b) most people get their via transit. 

There will always be the issue of competition with the power centres in outer suburbia, but an invisible line separates the part of the city that is “urban” in the sense that space is too valuable for free parking to be an absolute right from the “suburban” areas where it is part of the landscape.  That line will move steadily outward whether motorists like it or not, and it will do so for reasons of basic economics and business, not left-wing political conspiracy.

Those who park freely at Metropass lots constitute about one percent of transit ridership.  Many will continue to pay because the economics for them still make sense, all things considered.  The sky will not fall and the roads will not be jammed with drivers crawling past now-empty parking lots.

Meanwhile, on GO Transit, the proportion of customers who are not dependent on parking will continue to grow thanks to better local transit service and redevelopment near stations.  Even car pooling changes the home-to-station trip into one that is more like transit because all those errands one might do in one’s own car don’t always fit into the carpool model.  As GO expands its services, it cannot afford to proportionately increase parking, and this mode of accessing GO will drop as a proportion of the total ridership.  When parking, at least at the inner parts of its network, becomes a relatively trivial part of its service offering, why should it continue?  At what point is the cost of providing parking an unreasonable cross-subsidy from non-drivers who use transit systems?

Motorists have had a free ride for years because the cost of providing more capacity for their trips was built into the economic and political model dominating the GTA.  “Free ride” is a relative term, however, because the costs were paid, but buried as a general public expense.  The moment the marginal cost for new facilities rises beyond what governments are prepared to pay from available revenue, charges appear along with the sticker-shock of a free-to-paid model.

This discussion, along with the inevitable debates on road tolls, will probably be the most contentious part of “transit planning” in coming years.

25 thoughts on “The Psychology of Free Parking

  1. I dont have any problem with taking away FREE parking, rather, my problem lies with the subtext that this is the “first step” to eliminating, or, greatly reducing parking as a whole, free or not. Frankly, they should charge for parking.

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  2. There’s a professor at Berkeley’s Transportation Centre that’s been studying “free” parking, and the costs for it are quite high once you take everything into account (pollution, wear on the roads, convenience to drivers, land use efficiency):

    http://www.uctc.net/papers/351.pdf

    He’s gone on to write a book on the subject and it’s been fairly well disseminated:

    http://www.google.com/search?q=cost+of+free+parking

    Steve: Shoup’s paper, linked above, includes an hilarious analogy of a telephone system where the charges for all calls are billed to the recipient and calls appear to be free for the user. It starts on page 5.

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  3. Amtrak parking, for example in Middlesex county, New Jersey, in a 24-hour multi-story parking garage is $5 for up to 12 hours, $7 for up to 16 hours, and $9 for up to 24 hours. Annual, semi-annual, and quarterly parking permits are available for discounted rates ($65.00 per month).

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  4. So if making motoring expensive is an inherently left-wing idea, then I guess that makes Mike Harris an extreme leftist. After all, he is the guy who leased out the 407, which is now the most expensive toll road on the continent.

    (Personally, that’s my favourite Harris legacy)

    Steve: Shhhhhh! You’re not supposed to mention this sort of thing. Harris was making a sound business decision to monetarize a provincial asset built by that spendthrift Bob Rae. I have several bridges for you to buy (probably from Queen’s Park) if you believe that one.

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  5. When YUS extensions on both legs are done, every line near or at the end-of-the-line will be connected to a GO Train station: Richmond Hill, Sheppard West, Kipling, Kennedy, Union (end of the line in the sense that it is the southern most station in the subway), and, assuming they relocate Oriole GO, Leslie, with additional connections at Dundas West and Main Street (but the Main Street connection is a lost cause that cannot be taken seriously, a connection to Eglinton GO at a new McCowan/Eglinton (angled off the southeast corner) extension of B-D would resolve that, in addition to much-needed alleviation of Kennedy’s feeder stress). All GO lines need much more service, of course, for such to work.

    GO can handle the parking demands – let commuters park at a GO lot instead of at a TTC subway station, it makes far more sense that way. This also involves, however, removing parking at the existing GO stations and redeveloping those parking lots into bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly lands with high-density commuter residences as activity nodes for a vibrant transit node to truly take shape at the points where GO Train and TTC subway connect. Parking would need to be eliminated at Kipling, Kennedy, Richmond Hill, and the relocated Oriole, and ensure that GO does not construct parking at Sheppard West… add Eglinton to the list if the Danforth subway were to be extended.

    If all those GO connection are in place, the TTC has a very good argument to get out of the parking business altogether, and redevelop their properties where they are not in Hydro corridors (and for Hydro corridors, I’d argue that bus terminals be relocated to these places (such as what’s happening at Kipling), and allow existing bus terminals to be redeveloped into something bigger and more urban where possible). GO is going to have to keep parking around other than at TTC subway connections, but should still try to reduce their capacity where the potential to greatly improve local transit access to the station is viable, such as Cooksville, Port Credit, and Brampton. GO can’t get rid of it because GO has been married to parking lots since its inception, and is somewhat inseparable from it, but the TTC isn’t. Before the Bloor subway was built, I’m not aware of them offering parking at all, never had to – and in all honesty, they don’t have to today either.

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  6. Karl Junkin said: GO can handle the parking demands – let commuters park at a GO lot instead of at a TTC subway station, it makes far more sense that way.

    I wish I could take the GO, i really do! It is fast, clean, efficient, and simply a great ride instead of looking at dark tunnels …

    However, I can’t … because guess what … fare integration in Toronto sucks!

    I can go to Union station but then from there i either walk 20 mins to Yonge & Dundas or pay a FULL TTC Fare to go up a few subway stations…

    Can you imagine how many people from the 905 would switch over to GO if the fare was applicable to the TTC or even a simple 50 cent charge!!!!

    The Yonge subway would be less crowded, the parking lots would be less of an issue, people can make cool cross toronto trips also …

    For example … From: Lawrence & Port Union to Martin Grove & Rexdale, you hop on at Rouge Hill GO Station and head down to Union then switch over to the Milton Line and get off at Kipling station. Then from there you just pay 50 cents and continue with the TTC to your destination …

    I actually do see one benefit however … the new Kipling station will have Mississauga transit routes coming and so if you want to head over to Square 1, all you need is a 50 cent surcharge with your GO ticket … maybe this will get a LOT of people off the B-D and onto the GO Train …

    In the end, all GTA transit problems are for one reason … NO FARE INTEGRATION!

    Steve: And the reason for this is that Queen’s Park and GO Transit are too cheap to pay for it. An integrated GO/Local fare for Oakville costs peanuts in the grand scheme of things, but to do this with the TTC would cost a fortune and generate a lot of new GO riding for which there is no capacity.

    This is not a Toronto issue, but one of a double standard in funding the regions and the 416.

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  7. @Joseph C: The walk from Union Station to Yonge and Dundas can be done entirely underground, and it isn’t a very long walk. I’ve walked farther than that from bus stations (because suburban terminals tend to be poorly located). It’s an all indoor walk… why would you need the subway?

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  8. @Joseph C: The walk from Union Station to Yonge and Dundas can be done entirely underground, and it isn’t a very long walk. I’ve walked farther than that from bus stations (because suburban terminals tend to be poorly located). It’s an all indoor walk… why would you need the subway?

    Carrying a load of books from Union to Ryerson University does get tiring. Also, i was thinking more about in general….not everyone can walk that.

    Another major problem is the wierd route currently in place. The route will be straight when the Richmond-Adelaide Centre is built but until then, you have to swing west before heading east to reach the Eaton’s Centre.

    Finally, there is a lot and a lot of traffic in the PATH system. Reminds me of driving on the 401….Except in Human form…

    So for those reasons….and the fact that if people know that they have to walk 20 mins…..they add up.

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  9. Parallel to Steve’s TTC example, I would be intersted to know what fraction of GO ridership uses the parking at GO station lots.

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  10. “One percent of ridership” is the most telling bit. Parking just doesn’t scale.

    For example, Finch handles 92,610 subway passenger trips a day. Thanks to the hydro corridor it has a lot of commuter parking (3,214 spots); if each parking spot is used on average 1.2 times a day for a car with 1.2 people taking a round trip, that’s 9,256 trips (about 10% of the total).

    Sounds impressive, but put another way, if the park and ride crowd were the only users of Finch station, it’d only be about as busy as Lawrence East. It’s the buses and the walk-in trips that are the real basis of TTC subway use.

    One more set of calculations: if you wanted to generate all of Finch’s 92,610 trips from park-and-ride, let’s say you’d need a commuter parking lot with 32,150 spaces. Cost aside, if you put that lot in the hydro corridor it’d be over 9.5 km long, stretching from the 404 to the reservoir just east of Dufferin. Or if you bulldozed the whole neighbourhood, you could have a circular lot with a radius a little over 500 metres.

    It’s hard to see how charging for parking isn’t win-win for the TTC. If the parking still gets used, they’ve recovered more of their costs; if it doesn’t, they’ll free up land for development that can generate more riders than parking spots can.

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  11. Hi Steve:-

    I recently had to travel into Oshawa, from Toronto the Good and wanted to sample both the GO train and the local transit to get to my destination. I was really surprised that transferring from the GO train to the Oshawa bus was an unheard of inexpensive undertaking. I don’t recall how little it was to board the bus, but in the neighbourhood of 50 cents. Of the hundred or so people who got off the train here, fewer than a dozen took advantage of the local carrier. Cheap or not, it still appears not to be a big incentive to get the suburbanites out of their cars.

    As an aside, after transferring from the GO station bus onto the one that would ‘get me there’ I enquired from the operator as to what stop I should get off at and would he please advise me when we got there. He indeed did that. He dropped me off across the street from the site. Not unusual, except, there was no ‘official’ stop within a few hundred feet of it. Thanks again to that driver.

    Mr. D.

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  12. Part of the reason that GO’s 50-cent fare integration doesn’t extend to the TTC is that, in 905, it’s a strategic move to try and reduce reliance on parking and thus defer the need for parking expansion. If GO can encourage 10 riders to take Oakville Transit to the Oakville GO station as a result of the 50-cent fare, then that frees up 10 parking spaces that will end up being filled by 10 more riders.

    I would think that fare reform (reduce fares by a certain amount and then charge for parking) would also accomplish this and would probably be more effective, but I’m not sure GO is ready for that yet. Although if TTC can demonstrate that it will work at their lots (and, in their case, without lowering fares), it may increase the likelihood at GO.

    Re: GO parking: Slightly more than half of GO’s train ridership drives and parks at the stations; slightly less than a quarter shares a ride or is dropped off; and slightly more than a quarter either walks or takes local transit to the station. (This is system-wide and naturally there are variations from station to station.)

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  13. Mr. D said about outer GTA fares from GO stations, “Cheap or not, it still appears not to be a big incentive to get the suburbanites out of their cars.”

    With my tongue pressed firmly in my cheek, I might suggest that this is the needed incentive: http://busdriverofdurham.blogspot.com/2008/05/costly-theft-at-go-station.html

    Simply put: pay between $1 and $1.30 per day (depending on your local charge to a GO station) OR take your chances of getting your catalytic converter cut off and have to pay your insurance deductible.

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  14. This sounds more like an anti-car anthem than anything constructive to solve the problem of getting people to their destination quickly, effectively, and with minimal cost as possible. What I take is the following:

    – If you have a car and relied on free metropass parking, too bad, you should have saw this coming and therefore deserve to pay this additional expense.
    – If you have a car, then you deserve to pay more in related fees because after all, you are paying for convenience. If you don’t want to pay for increased fees related to owning a car, then don’t own one. After all, the author of this blog has never had to rely on a car (though I admit, due to his present place of residence, he doesn’t need to).
    – If you don’t like the fees and still need to rely on subway parking then too freaking bad, no tears of pity for you.

    Steve interjects: With respect to process, I am equally annoyed at the way a complex proposal was sprung on the Commission and public as part of the Supplementary Agenda for a meeting that was already overburdened with major issues. There was no reason for pushing this through so quickly. Moreover, some of the statements made in support of the change overstated the real cost to the TTC of operating the lots leaving them open to bona fide criticism of painting a worst-case scenario.

    I concur with those who subscribed to Metropasses on the assumption that they would also get free parking. They complain that the change was a bait-and-switch, and that a better phase-in process should have applied, and I agree with them. This was a needless piece of bad customer relations by the TTC.

    Having said that, I believe the debate about parking needs to be conducted with a view to resolving how or whether we should expand parking capacity in a system where it is full today. If the marginal cost of more parking, both from the cost of construction and the land use impact, is substantially higher than what we would be prepared to pay as a regular transit subsidy, then free parking simply is not in the cards.

    The fact remains that it has just gotten that much harder for people to get to where they are going. There are only two expressways to get to the downtown core, and they are packed to the gills. Even taking into account all these necessary fees, accounting for depreciation, gas, insurance, etc, why would people decide to drive down instead of forking out extra money for parking? The answer is convenience.

    Is it really worth it to fork out extra money when all of the sudden the TTC has a breakdown in service? And if it is bad enough to require the use of the god-awful shuttle buses (which are slow, always crowded, and very few), are we really getting good value for our money? Sure, car drivers also do have to suffer when either the Gardiner or the DVP suffers an accident, but the flexibility of having a car means that anyone can take a detour towards their destination.

    I shall also remind you that car drivers have more clout with politicians than transit riders. Whenever there is any additional funding for transportation, usually the expressways get the first bite. When there is a shortage of transportation funding, the public transit projects get the axe.

    If this war against the car drivers continues, it will only escalate. When push comes to shove for more infrastructure funding, it will be granted, but not towards your beloved transit city network or any TTC improvement. Rather it will come in the form of a capacity increase on our expressways or rather a new expressway itself.

    Steve: Within the 416 this is a hollow threat because there is no room to build new expressways, and it is a long-established fact that improving service on GO Transit is far more cost effective. This leaves us with the problem of how people get to the GO trains in the first place, and I have discussed this at some length elsewhere.

    Have you ever noticed why businesses in Toronto are leaving the downtown core itself? Why is there more vacant office space downtown compared to the 905 area? And why was the 407 expanded from three lanes in each direction to 5 in some areas?

    Steve: The long drought in office construction is ending, and another factor you ignore is the growing downtown population who do not have to commute via the expressway network. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying we don’t need the 905, but for decades we have talked of putting jobs and homes close to each other. This doesn’t just apply to fields in Vaughan.

    You cannot completely ignore the car drivers in this equation. They have a much larger effect on the transportation picture in the GTA. The fact that all those cars can be enough to fill an expressway speaks volumes of this. As I’ve said before, adding all these cars can also affect surface transit as it makes it that much more difficult for buses and streetcars to navigate the streets. One more car waiting to make a left turn bunching up streetcar traffic. One more car making it that much more difficult for buses to merge into traffic.

    You need to address their concerns to why they need to park in the TTC lots first before you take the free parking away from them. Starting today, my wife’s carpool will be driving downtown and taking advantage of the free parking spot given to them. Why would it be worth it to pay more money when you can have the convenience of an airy vehicle rather than a crowded subway train instead?

    Steve: Not every person/carpool coming downtown has free parking. However, pooling like this is really the sort of thing we want to see on the road system as opposed to the solo driver. The space taken per commuter is less both on the roads and in the parking lot, wherever it is.

    The question then becomes how we would make low-cost parking available to HOVs just as we have expressway lanes. This requires monitoring, but would be worth pursuing. There will always be the problem that if you have four people in a car pool, that means four TTC fares or passes and there will be some point where it remains cheaper to drive all the way downtown even if parking at the subway is free.

    I’ll echo Joseph C’s comments: if you want to have an effect on solving the gridlock issue in the GTA, it must be done by making it easier (not HARDER) to take local transit. If you want to charge for parking, then fine, remove the fare zones which make using public transit more prohibitive for most people. And an aside to all this: why is it that the Wilson, Downsview, and Yorkdale parking lots are all crowded and the Viva Orange line has so few passengers?

    Steve: I have written extensively here about the need for better local transit, most recently in my review of the coming Metrolinx plans, and I have also written about the need to get rid of fare boundaries. We may disagree on the exact implementation, but we’re on the same page generally speaking. I too am tired of the way that we have a very big stick (parking fees, etc.) and a very small, dried up carrot (transit service) when dealing with the motoring public. This just gives transit advocacy a bad name. The fundamental issue here is that everybody talks about improving transit, but what they mainly do is to get more revenue anywhere they can find it just to balance the books.

    Matt L: “For example, Finch handles 92,610 subway passenger trips a day. Thanks to the hydro corridor it has a lot of commuter parking (3,214 spots); if each parking spot is used on average 1.2 times a day for a car with 1.2 people taking a round trip, that’s 9,256 trips (about 10% of the total).”

    From my perspective, the average car going to a TTC lot carries 2-3 people. When I was carpooling, I rarely saw a vehicle with a single occupant drive into the Kipling or Islington lots. I previously have seen MINIVANS loaded with 7-8 people make entrances into these lots. Carpooling does add a lot of passengers to the mix. Adding parking fees to metropass users does not just affect the drivers, but also their carpool passengers too. Also, not everyone in a TTC carpool is going to the same destination, my previous carpool had 4 of us heading in different locations.

    Steve: This is an excellent point. However, as I mentioned above, if there are four people in a pool, and they all have Metropasses, they have spent a lot of money on the TTC even though collectively they only use one space. If they decide to park downtown and drop the passes, the TTC loses a lot of revenue. However, the fact that four people think it worthwhile to have a pass (or pay 40 fares a month) makes me sense that the price point for parking is not as sensitive as your analysis implies.

    Joe Clark: “The TTC is already proposing vast new parking lots on the York subway extension.”

    This is pointless given that the TTC will be charging for parking. This also makes the entire York subway extension even more pointless given that car drivers are more likely to drive downtown than to pay costly parking fees to ride from there.

    Steve: The issue of parking fees is covered by the Memorandum of Understanding among various parties (See page 5). The TTC has agreed to charge enough for parking at Highway 7 that it will not drain riders and revenue from York Region’s transit system. Moreover, there will be no commuter parking at VCC. If you don’t like these terms, complain to York Region, not to the TTC.

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  15. Steve: “Within the 416 this is a hollow threat because there is no room to build new expressways, and it is a long-established fact that improving service on GO Transit is far more cost effective. This leaves us with the problem of how people get to the GO trains in the first place, and I have discussed this at some length elsewhere.”

    I have seen multitudes of grassroots campaigns advocating new expressways to the core. I have seen plans which involve ripping up major roadways and adjacent homes and replacing them with 3 to 4 lane freeways with standard Parclo A4 intersections. I have seen proposals from a causeway over Lake Ontario stretching from Scarborough to the Gardiner, and a tunnel expressway under Eglinton connecting with Black Creek and the Allen. And don’t forget that there are still proposals for the Allen to be extended all the way downtown, one proposal I saw involved ripping up University Avenue to do this. Obviously what is not there is the political will. But political will is not to be underestimated. All it needs is the right storm of the wrong politicians and Torontonians will have expressways forced down its throat against its objections. This is an outcome that neither you and I want, and it is yet another one of those points we can agree with.

    Steve: “I have written extensively here about the need for better local transit, most recently in my review of the coming Metrolinx plans, and I have also written about the need to get rid of fare boundaries. We may disagree on the exact implementation, but we’re on the same page generally speaking. I too am tired of the way that we have a very big stick (parking fees, etc.) and a very small, dried up carrot (transit service) when dealing with the motoring public. This just gives transit advocacy a bad name. The fundamental issue here is that everybody talks about improving transit, but what they mainly do is to get more revenue anywhere they can find it just to balance the books.”

    The Carrot and Stick comment is very appreciated from this side of the fence. Also the comment that the move to eliminate free parking was poorly executed is also appreciated. Debate should have begun on this issue with input from affected citizens inside and outside the 416 before the vote was begun.

    Steve: “This is an excellent point. However, as I mentioned above, if there are four people in a pool, and they all have Metropasses, they have spent a lot of money on the TTC even though collectively they only use one space. If they decide to park downtown and drop the passes, the TTC loses a lot of revenue. However, the fact that four people think it worthwhile to have a pass (or pay 40 fares a month) makes me sense that the price point for parking is not as sensitive as your analysis implies.”

    Complaints about the price of parking are as bad as the rising cost of fuel. It’s the consumer perception called “gouging”. If 4 people were to carpool to a transit lot, assuming that the cost of parking is $6 each day, then each person on the carpool will need to fork out $7.50 a week. That’s an additional $30 per person, per month To the average commuter, that will sound like an unreasonable cost. And it should be, with paid parking around $10 a day, 4 people will probably forgo paying a boatload of money in transit passes to park downtown. Even if driving downtown costs more, the convenience of a car negates the convenience (or dare I say inconvenience) of public transit.

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  16. Agreed with Stephen Chung…

    To add in, I think that Allen Road should transition into a road instead of ending at a T junction … better to have cars slow down then completely stop. Think about the emissions … Transition into Bathurst or Spadina Ave as a normal 4 lane road.

    Steve: I am always amused when road advocacy comes disguised as an environmental benefit. There is no way the Allen Road is going to be extended south to Bathurst or to Spadina/Davenport. I would rather wall it up and turn it into the Eglinton West Station parking lot, and I might even have the nerve to charge for it. The real saving in emissions would be for those cars not to try going all the way into the city at all.

    Steve: The issue of parking fees is covered by the Memorandum of Understanding among various parties (See page 5). The TTC has agreed to charge enough for parking at Highway 7 that it will not drain riders and revenue from York Region’s transit system. Moreover, there will be no commuter parking at VCC. If you don’t like these terms, complain to York Region, not to the TTC.

    They better not have parking at VCC. That would totally destroy any potential this site would have. I think you meant by Highway 407, not 7 because 7 is where VCC would be.

    Steve: Sorry, yes, the 407.

    I have a slight feeling that maybe York Region will decide to subsidize the parking north of Steeles. This might cause a huge rush of people in the Inner suburbs to travel to the 905 to park. People around Steeles especially, maybe even Finch (maybe not, if the LRT is built).

    Also, York Region has a master plan of turning their 4 lane roads into 6 lanes + Bike lanes, but the extra lanes being Carpool/Bus lanes. That would mean that Jane St would probably be widened up to 407, allowing all buses and carpools to park there.

    Anyways…..by the time this all gets built, life will be different…

    Steve: I know York plans a lot of road widening, but they will need far more political courage than any politicians have shown in the GTA, including Toronto, if they are going to resist some sort of “peak only” sawoff on those new lanes. When I see a truly dedicated transit lane, then I will believe they are serious.

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  17. For those who believe that there are people who would not pay for parking at TTC stations, where I live at York Mills Station, there is a paid parking lot for TTC commuters and it sees plenty of traffic. So there are those who WILL pay for parking.

    As for Joseph’s statement about road widening, that is perhaps the last thing that York Region needs. What they need to do is to give up control of their antiquidated transit system and their joke-of-the-art VIVA express bus, and turn over control to the TTC. That should pave the way for an integrated fare system and only then would any extension to York Region be feasible. But Yonge Street first than Spadina extension, Yonge Street needs it first.

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  18. Joseph C: Even I can’t agree with the proposal for the Allen. It’s just yet another excuse for the pro-highways group to create a network of expressways in the city. To quote one: “if major metropolitan areas like Boston, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and so on can have a network of expressways and still be world class cities, why can’t we? We’re third class on the world stage simply because we never invested in highway infrastructure.”

    Mind you, with the cancellation of free parking, I’m sure these and other proposals are gathering steam. This is ammunition that we do not need to give them.

    Steve: San Francisco dismantled part of its downtown expressway system. LA is notorious for being a city that is all expressways, Boston spent a fortune (mainly federal money) to put their Central Artery underground, and Chicago does not have an expressway blocking the prime part of its lakefront.

    We’re third class because we have not invested in transit. Do we really want to hold up LA as a model city?

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  19. Stephen Cheung writes:

    “I have seen multitudes of grassroots campaigns advocating new expressways to the core. I have seen plans which involve ripping up major roadways and adjacent homes and replacing them with 3 to 4 lane freeways with standard Parclo A4 intersections. I have seen proposals from a causeway over Lake Ontario stretching from Scarborough to the Gardiner, and a tunnel expressway under Eglinton connecting with Black Creek and the Allen.”

    I’ve seen these campaigns as well, and I find them all pretty ludicrous. No way these pie-in-the-sky schemes will come to fruition.

    Parking charges, and tolls, are most likely coming. As the owner of a car I find these to be extra expenses. But I think it’s a good idea anyway, and I’ll support any such proposals made.

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  20. FYI, for Toronto based commuters there IS fare integration between TTC and GO. It is called TTC Times Two, and basically lets you take a TTC bus/tram/train to a GO train or bus, and then if your trip ends in Toronto, you can continue on the TTC without paying an extra fare.

    It isn’t as generous as what the 905 offers, but at least it is something.

    Steve: There is only a handful of places where this is practical, typically for a TTC-GO-Union route that uses the subway as the last leg. Anyone travelling counterpeak will run into problems with infrequent services outbound.

    This has nothing to do with generosity as the TTC is basically letting you make a long transfer by way of GO Transit. Unlike the GO subsidies of 905 transit operators for their cheap transfer fares, the TTC doesn’t get a penny from anyone else to support this arrangement.

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  21. Ed: Just because you thought it was ludicrous does not mean that it is not going to be done. As history has shown, some “ludicrous” projects that people initially thought were “pie in the sky” have become reality. The 401 is one of them, the 407 was another. Even Toronto’s subway system may have been considered as “ridiculous” as much as any overblown highway project. Again all is needed is the right mix of the wrong politicians and we may have a fight in our hands. It doesn’t even come close to being reality now, but we could get closer as the years progress and nothing is done to address the concerns of ALL commuters.

    As for myself, I do not find the idea of tolls and parking charges to be “good” charges. I like a good portion of the city are hanging by the thinnest of strings on our finances. Most of us will consider the charges more of a detriment to getting around the city, especially considering that there is no decent alternative to getting around the city other than by car.

    Steve: I will be reiterating this statement in an article I will write later today in the Metrolinx series, but I too am tiring of financing schemes that all turn on getting yet more money out of car drivers. This gives transit a bad name because it places the burden on one group.

    We need to get back to the idea of a regional sales tax and grabbing the space vacated by the GST. I know it’s not popular, no taxes are popular, but I think the political implications are nowhere near as bad as counting entirely on tolls, gas taxes and licence fees. With a sales tax, everyone pays.

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  22. Steve wrote, “San Francisco dismantled part of its downtown expressway system.”

    No, an earthquake did that. San Francisco decided not to rebuild it. A subtle point, but one that pro-expressway types will jump all over to discredit an entire argument.

    Steve: Earthquakes are unlikely to make major inroads (groan here) into Toronto’s expressways. I prefer plagues of frogs. Either way, the point is that SF decided it could get along just fine, thank you, without theirs.

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  23. Stephen replies to my reply to him:

    “Ed: Just because you thought it was ludicrous does not mean that it is not going to be done.”

    Fair enough. To clarify a bit more, I think that the schemes are “ludicrous” because they are not done by city engineers, but rather by independent people who (when I have looked at their schemes and/or web sites) are at best roadgeeks and at worst cranks.

    Transit geeks post all kinds of dream subway maps on the web too, and I don’t believe those have any more chance of becoming real.

    City engineers do come up with ludicrous schemes, of course. The proposal to make Yonge and Bay one-way, back around 1990, came within a day of taking place: the signs were all there, but wrapped up.

    That failed due to popular revolt, and that was at a time when driving downtown was a pretty good idea, due to low gas prices, plenty of non-condofied parking, and a grossly overloaded Yonge subway.

    A grassroots initiative to do something that’s either small (a local park, say), or something that can be developed piecemeal with many parts at low or no cost (the Bruce Trail) I can buy. A grassroots initiative to put a causeway in Lake Ontario, with the horrible up-front costs to have anything workable….nah, I ain’t buying it.

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