Globe Blows Hot Air on Climate Change

Today, Canada’s so-called National Newspaper weighed in against Mayor David Miller with an editorial short enough on fact it might be a policy paper for would-be mayoral candidates in 2010.

The Globe doesn’t like our Mayor, who has not only his Toronto role but the distinguished position of leading the C40 group of major cities internationally.  Miller uses his international standing as a stage to critique Ottawa, but the Globe, with text that might have been cribbed from a Harper press release, paints Miller as at best unhelpful.  Miller calls himself “an embarrassed Canadian”, and he’s not alone.  International criticism of Canadian policy comes from many quarters, and the opposition is not co-ordinated at the corner of Queen and Bay.

Quoth the Globe:

While Toronto gets some things right, it is not the environmental angel Mr. Miller would like the world to believe. The city has ambitions for public transit, but fare hikes are more reliable than the announcements of new routes. The city’s energy retrofitting programs are worthy, but the tens of millions of dollars spent to date will not make a sustained, wide-ranging impact in conservation. There are vaunted efforts to expand renewable energy, but a single wind turbine twirls, lonely, near Lake Ontario.

In case the Globe’s editors, sitting down by the lake and an expressway, have not noticed, the single most ambitious transit project, Transit City, is a Toronto initiative, as are many other less glamourous but still important improvements to the transit system in the wake of Harris-era cutbacks.  Three Transit City routes are funded, as is the conversion of the SRT to LRT and its extension as part of an overall Transit City Network.  Transit service, though it has problems, has been improved both in capacity and in hours.  There are lots of announcements, but possibly the Globe is too busy with puff pieces about the oil sands to bother reading them.

Queen’s Park has helped on the capital side with almost complete funding for the Transit City projects.  Where they fall short is on the operating side of the budget where a consistent, guaranteed revenue stream is still not available to the TTC.  The city itself has a chronic deficit inherited from years of Lastman tax freezes when modest increases would have kept the city in good shape.  Queen’s Park refuses to take on many costs downloaded in the Harris era, but also refuses to give Toronto the most important tool it could have, a chunk of the sales tax revenue stream.

Ottawa has funded part of the Spadina subway extension and the Sheppard East LRT project, and has money in various smaller projects.  Almost all of the federal money is a one-time grant, not a guaranteed revenue stream.

Yes, the TTC has just passed a fare hike, the first in two years, and one that is justified to pay for ongoing increases in the cost and amount of transit service.  Recent complaints stem more from the size of the jump (a product of a two-year wait), and regular annual increases would likely have been more palatable.  The Globe itself raises prices from time to time, and we are stuck with paying for it (at least if we want the hard copy).  Try picketing at 444 Front West and see how much good it does you.

That single wind turbine down by the lake is lonely.  It never was intended to be the final word, but simply a demonstration project.  As the Globe should well know, tests are now underway to determine the wind characteristics off Scarborough Bluffs.  Moreover, generation is primarily a provincial responsibility through Hydro.  The city can and does encourage whatever changes are possible to reduce demand and to provide alternate energy sources where this is practical.

With spectacularly warped logic, the Globe argues:

Canadian cities often coast on the environmental harms being caused elsewhere. For instance, Toronto’s financial-services sector depends on oil, gas and mining concerns. Bay Street, and the larger Toronto economy, benefit from carbon emissions generated far away. Mr. Miller touts a 20-year record of greenhouse-gas emission reduction; an all-in calculation might yield a different result.

This implies an all-in view not just of energy usage but of economic prosperity.  We all benefit from the oil sands, and everyone needs to accept their share of the blame for Alberta’s carbon footprint.  That neat transfer of responsibility from the oil industry to Bay Street and the Mayor’s Office is a staggering leap especially considering that any attempt “the east” makes to critique Big Oil’s excesses, the more we are villified for interfering in “the west’s” manifest destiny.  What the Globe neglects is the small fortune lavished on Big Oil by government subsidies and fast writedowns without which the oil sands may never have been developed.  How much money have I invested in dirty oil through the tax system?  How much will future Albertans pay to clean up the mess it is creating?

Finally, the Globe dismisses the Mayor with:

A federal government that already has its back up on the international stage will not buckle from the chirpings of a lame-duck mayor of a city where it has no parliamentary seats; if anything, its stance will harden.

If anyone at the Globe thinks that the election of Tories to federal seats in Toronto would change the attitude of the federal caucus, they are dreaming.  Dismiss the Mayor as a lame-duck, they may, but the Globe cannot spin international opinion as if it’s all David Miller’s doing.  Miller’s “antics”, as the Globe describes them, show us as a city, finally, telling Ottawa to pull its weight in the world, to give us something we can be proud of, a lasting contribution to our future, something more than a few weeks of bread and circuses.

36 thoughts on “Globe Blows Hot Air on Climate Change

  1. Residential Education Tax is supposed to be a “fee for service”. Instead it is based solely on the cash sale price of properties across Ontario. The high property values in Toronto result in Torontonians paying far more in Education Tax than the province returns to the City. Our tax money is spent elsewhere and other’s pay less than the cost of education in their communities. This unfair tax was originated by the “We Hate Toronto” Harris Government, but Mr. “Time for a Change” McGinty does nothing to right this wrong. I don’t understand the Commercial Education Tax assessment process, but I do know that it is even more egregious in penalising Toronto.

    If the Province would fix the Education Tax, there would be more than enough tax room for The City to move into and balance its budget (and pay the operating costs of transit) without increasing the current overall level of taxation for City residents.

    The unfair education tax also subsidises the cost of living in the outer suburbs. The money saved in taxes can be used towards the cost of long greenhouse gas creating commutes by residents in communities such as Barrie or Oshawa.

    The right wing cabal loves demonising Mr. Miller and ridiculing the efforts to improve our greenhouse gas footprint taken by the City. The City can, and has, made a difference. An urban, transit oriented, lifestyle has a much smaller greenhouse gas footprint than a suburban oversized house commuting version in the first place. Initiatives taken by Mr. Miller have made the City lifestyle even less destructive.


  2. Here’s something funny for you: amongst the citizenry of the Ottawa Valley, I have heard the Globe & Mail labelled a Socialist rag. I know, amazing isn’t it?!


  3. Isn’t it clear why the Globe thinks Toronto is an environmental laggard? Toronto hasn’t yet started a Carbon Capture & Storage project to solve all of its GHG problems!


  4. The Globe seems out of touch with reality lately and prone to full page graphics on the weekend in lieu of paying writers to fill the space. Then they hired Ebenezer Gee to dislike everything and everyone in the city so you have to wonder. Its people like you Steve, and even those that I often don’t agree with that are playing a greater role in shaping my opinion than the Star or Globe.


  5. In the 12-14 years they held power, the Federal Liberals did very little on climate change as well according to several major international environmental groups. So to be fair, both parties are to blame! Oh I see…when the Liberals screw up, it is a little dent and we move on. When the Convseratives screw up, it is seen as a major disaster and the end of the world. You want to talk about embasrassment, how about ‘Scare Miller’ continuing to not give a damn about gun crime in this City!!

    Steve: In case you have not noticed, the Mayor does care about crime, including gun crime, and the actual crime rates are falling notwithstanding the fearmongering press who play up only the most violent incidents (including those outside the 416). The Liberals actually did come through with some money for transit, although not as much as Toronto wanted, but didn’t get a chance to do more.


  6. Rodney:

    In 2008, the volume and overall severity of crime in the Toronto Region fell for the fifth year in a row, down 6% over 2007.

    This includes fewer reported violent crimes for the third consecutive year in the City proper – a 3.3% decline in 2008 from 2007, representing about 1,000 fewer crimes.

    (Source here)


  7. My entire interest in what you advocate here regarding transit and urban living is based on my belief that a way of life where we live closer to our jobs and other destinations and spend less time getting from A to B will make everyone a lot happier in general. The fact that environmental benefit comes with this is just a bonus to me.

    I also believe that the day will come when fossil fuel supply will begin to be an issue. I’m not thinking that we’ll run out some morning, but I am thinking that if supply dwindles slightly and combined with increasing demand from China, India, etc. we need to be ready with an alternative plan should it become prohibitively expense to commute long distances. I confess that I am not a great believer in the green wave that’s come along in recent years, but I support Steve’s endeavors solely from the viewpoint that we will be a better society and a lot happier when we aren’t driving 100 km around the city everyday. That viewpoint has a lot of commonality with the green movement.

    Another beef I have is all the adulation we see in the U.S. about Obama. For someone who is getting all the praise as being a man of change and a great communicator, he has said very little about changing the American way of life. The process of moving people closer together and discouraging suburbs needs to start down there as well. He should be using this ability he has to daze and amaze the masses by telling them that change involves less motoring, less consumption and a return to simpler life. The fact is that like all politicians, he would be vilified greatly for this because no one wants to give up what they have.

    Helping the environment is like an all-too-common attitude about hiring physically disabled people where the boss says something like – “sure, I support their right to work, but just not here”.

    And to finish here about Mayor Miller. There is a lot of criticism toward him about the union strength and the wages of some city staff. No matter what else he achieves it looks like he’s going to carry that mark as the defining one for many people for a long time.


  8. One of our esteemed national papers also made the accusation that public transit is bad for the environment. Apparently the single 101 Downsview Park bus that goes back and forth empty offsets the 60 that run on Finch East.

    Steve: I decided not to reply to that article as it was such a pile of crap. The Post should have been ashamed to print it, but misrepresenting public services seems to be the political trend these days.


  9. And what about that telephoto shot of St. Clair? The post and Mr. Howard Moscoe outright lied to the general public to incite more fury over what is essentially done, finally. BTW, for anyone curious, the average carbon footprint of a Torontonian is 4/5 of that of the average 905 resident, and slightly below the national average, although still very high in terms of what is reasonable.


  10. Your response to Nick is ironic. Did you not say, concerning a transit development that you oppose, “The [pollution] saving from avoided trips is ephemeral because road capacity will backfill and the pollution from it will remain”? So (even assuming one accepts the ridiculous “backfill” argument), how does Transit City magically avoid backfill and result in a net reduction of emissions?

    Steve: I have never been a fan of pollution calculations because one has to be careful what asssumptions are made. Expansion of the suburban transit network (with Transit City and other schemes) is intended to increase transit’s capacity and attractiveness. This will allow people who now have long trips that are not necessarily oriented to the core to move around more easily. It will also permit a direct reduction in costs for people who must now maintain an extra vehicle because transit is not an option for some of their family’s trips. There will also be a reduction of road capacity through the dedication of one lane each way to transit. The situation in the Weston corridor is completely different. GO tries to offset new pollution in the rail corridor with travel reduction on expressways miles away. I would not use that methodology even for a pet project of my own.

    Far too much “analysis” of transit attempts to create some sort of benefits balance sheet. Some of this is rather creative. Indeed, Metrolinx’ own “benefits cases” treat the employment caused by a project as a “value”, and by extension, the bigger the project, the more the “value”. This is nonsense of course because the money spent on the gold-plated version of project “A” might alternatively be used to build projects “B” and “C” which might not even be transit lines. The question is not that we create “X” years of employment, but whether we get the most out of that investment in terms of useful infrastructure that enables new and improved services.

    Into this whole mess comes an attempt to analyze pollution tradeoffs. By creating a new commuter line and shifting road trips to it, we are, in effect, “building” new capacity on the road system. The total network (road plus transit) can carry more people than the road network alone. However, until we reach the point where there isn’t a backlog of demand (some of which will be induced — car shares reverting to lone driver trips) for the road network, the pollution from cars will stay the same. What we have done, by carrying some trips on transit, is to reduce the average pollution per trip, but we have not reduced the total pollution.


  11. Jonathon, I talked to Moscoe about what he said to the Post. He says they selectively quoted him and that he prefaced his comments with, “That photo looks doctored but if that isn’t a distorted photo…”


  12. Steve:

    You say “If anyone at the Globe thinks that the election of Tories to federal seats in Toronto would change the attitude of the federal caucus, they are dreaming.” and “The Liberals actually did come through with some money for transit, although not as much as Toronto wanted, but didn’t get a chance to do more.” but do you honestly believe the federal Liberal party really cares that much about Toronto?

    As I have said here previously Toronto has been a mail in vote for the Liberals for years (even decades). Any funding Toronto has seen during the Chretien and Martin era has been a bone to make sure those votes keep rolling in. At risk ridings are where our none too altruistic politicians of all stripes spend taxpayer cash. Even Blue-22 was geared more towards Quebec with SNC-Lavalin being handed the project without much consultation. And that was David Collenette’s baby as Minister of Transport in the Chretien government.

    As to David Miller being the poster child for a green revolution, the only green he seems to be interested in is in the pockets of taxpayers!

    Steve: Miller, unlike people at both the provincial and federal levels, is at least honest enough to say that we can’t have more services unless we pay for them.


  13. Seems like the Globe and Mail is trying to start a race to the bottom with the National Post. With the NP publishing a piece about how “environmentally unfriendly” public transit is today, it seems they have accepted the challenge.

    The Toronto Star needs to publish a national paper, to help bring a moderate and intelligent perspective to the national newspaper landscape.

    Steve: The Star is just trying to stay in business, like many other newspapers, and they are in no position to publish a national paper.


  14. Transit and the Environment is about more than just emissions. It’s also about roadspace. One lane of the 401 operating a peak efficiency can move, IIRC, 3,500 cars, most containing a single person. The subway can move 40,000 people each direction. Note that in order for a highway to operate a peak efficiency, traffic must be kept moving at the limit, the slower it goes, the more you lose capacity. The Finch East bus route currently has a capacity near 3,500 people per direction. If you remove that bus, you need to build a new lane on the 401 (as an example) When you take that into account and look at how many new lanes of highways you’d need to build to replace public transit you start to understand the full environmental impact involved.


  15. While Mr. Miller did more for transit than say Mr. Lastman, rely on gasoline tax to pay for transit is not very smart. If we want to cut CO2 emissions, we must burn less gasoline. How smart is it to rely on a shrinking tax to pay for expanding transit cost?

    Mr. Miller should have lobbied for gaming facilities to be built in this city. OLG brought in $1.7 billion for the province last year. Even if Toronto’s gaming facilities brought in say $200 million, this will build several miles of tramways every year. Gaming tax is good because the average Torontonian will not be paying for it and it is constantly expanding regardless of economic conditions. Tourists will be paying for it.

    Transit is not all about building new lines and spending money. Why does Mr. Miller not allow mobile phone companies to install cell sites inside the subway? We have the distinction of not having mobile phone service inside our metro. Is that not shame? In addition, if people cannot e-mail, trade stocks / currencies, use twitter, how attractive is transit? Even on a Boeing 777 over the Pacific Ocean, one can surf the net. Remember a motorist can do all that inside a car. What is the incentive to take transit?

    Steve: A few points here. There are many who believe that revenue problems should not be solved with gaming because a disproportionate amount of the income from that source comes from people who can’t really afford it. Tourists pay for some of it, but a lot of the income is local. However, you probably know that Woodbine Live! in northwestern Etobicoke will be a major entertainment (and gambling) centre, and there’s already a study of how to serve it with an extension of the Finch West LRT.

    As for cell phones in the subway, this is already under discussion between the TTC and cell providers. One big problem is that the subway represents a large concentration of users, and they tend to all want to make calls at once — when the subway gets stuck somewhere. Cell technology is based on shared bandwidth, but if a train full of hundreds of cell users all tries to “phone home” at the same time, there needs to be lots of capacity to handle this. The real question here is how much the cell companies want to spend on infrastructure.


  16. Steve: The Star is just trying to stay in business, like many other newspapers, and they are in no position to publish a national paper.

    Plus, The Star is no friend of Toronto: Royson James was the one who was pushing amalgamation as if it were The Second Coming and we should all be grateful to be here. It’s most likely as anti-Miller as the Globe, Post and Sun are. Open mouth, talk shit, open mouth, talk more shit. And we are supposed to trust these papers with our money and attention?


  17. The cellphone issue is complicated by the different technologies in use by the major networks. Until the service providers stop the practice of locking you in based on the communication standard of your particular phone model we likely won’t see any movement on outfitting the subway. It is a huge and complicated investment that would provide little financial return. Plus by the time the TTC ever got around to letting anything get installed the technology would be two generations behind.

    I for one am quite glad the phones don’t work in the subway because it preserves what little peace and quiet is left in my daily commute. People yelling into their phones on the buses is incredibly irritating (and the rule about music playing is not being enforced.) There is no good reason for us to be ‘in touch’ and ‘online’ every second of our waking hours, the push toward which is purely a marketing move to integrate electronics with every facet of the lives of future generations forever. And for the paranoid out there, do you really want Government Security to be able to track your position by GPS everywhere you go. Whether or not you’ve done anything wrong that’s been the new reality in the USA for over a year now. For the extra-paranoid, cell service would enable the use of remotely detonated bombs underground.


  18. I agree completely with Kristian regarding cellphone use in the subway. My daily subway ride is the only time of the day I am “disconnected”, and I think that is a very good thing. It’s also a no-win situation for the TTC to even bother pursuing this. In all honesty, does anyone really think the TTC will attract more riders if there is cellphone coverage underground? I certainly don’t think so. What will get people out of their cars and onto the TTC is better and more reliable service, more rapid transit lines and cleaner stations/vehicles.


  19. In Toronto, cars kill far more people than guns.

    Toronto’s medical office of health reports that car pollution alone (never mind all the car crashes!) kills 440 people and injures another 1,700 so seriously that they have to be hospitalized. See details.

    Gun shootings have never killed or injured more than one tenth that number.

    Let’s try to get away from media sensationalism and focus upon the REAL dangers faced by people in Toronto.


  20. Miller’s remark about Toronto’s weather being July and Winter is a dumb thing for a mayor to say to the world’s tourists. The sort of comment that Mel Lastman would make.

    Steve: Better than worrying about snakes and cannibals.


  21. Relying on the gas tax is generally by means of necessity, since it is usually the only money we can squeeze out of higher levels of government. The simple solution to the carbon problem is to raise the tax when the revenue drops. Motorists who refuse to take public transit are a captive market and should be taxed as such.


  22. Global warming is actually global cooling….Those hackers that exposed fudged documents by scientists to suit there agenda towards the global warming crusade have left a bad taste in my mouth…Man has to stop indulging itself that they are experts on Nature…We are not….One volcanic explosion on this earth can alter our weather overnight, an asteroid one mile in size can end life on this earth overnight too. Everyone should just live there lives and try to be respectful of the environment. thx


  23. I was talking to a councilor about the cell phone issue a while back, and they said the reason the TTC had not seriously considered it up to that point was security. This was around 2006 or 2007, during the period when there were no garbage cans on track level, either. It seemed rather silly to me, but I gather they were worried about remote bomb detonation.


  24. Too true about the Globe & Mail. I often wonder if a huge percentage of the decline of the traditional media is not due to the fact that it’s relentlessly, stupidly reactionary and way behind where most of the public is (especially those informed, interested folk who are their most likely subscribers). The CBC, too, will no doubt when its traditional support base, which they have worked tirelessly to alienate, don’t spring to their defense when the axe comes down next year. The Globe’s sinecured haters are a real drain on this city, province and country. Royson James at the Star is no better. Thank heaven for the internet.

    Miller has disappointed in a number of ways, but considering he’s working with a hugely dysfunctional council of stolid incumbents and airheads from the amalgamated suburbs, it’s a wonder he’s gotten anything done.

    Now, if we could just give that TTC management a good tree-shaking.


  25. Gas tax is also very unfair. If someone is driving a plug in Prius or a Chevrolet Volt, under some circumstances, they will not be paying the gas tax. A 60 km drive on the Volt will not consume any gasoline yet that motorist still contributes to grid lock and consumes a parking space somewhere. Do we start taxing electricity? In any case, cars and SUVs are getting more fuel efficient. So, tax revenues will go down unless gas tax is raised.

    The good thing about a gaming facility is that tourists will pay for it. It imposes no additional burdens on the tax payers. In Windsor, the gaming facility there pays for the salaries of additional policemen needed to patrol the area. Windsor’s clientel are all American. Woodbine Live! does not count. First it is located too far away from the tourists. So local income feeds that establishment. Put one at say Queen and Peter St and watch the tourist money start flowing.

    A note on the cell sites. Pearson Airport receives about $1 million from each mobile carrier per year. So, this will net the TTC an additional $3 million per year. This will pay for almost 1.5 Flexity trams per year.

    Steve: I think your math is a bit off. 1.5 new trams cost about $9-million including spare parts, warranty, etc. As for revenue, I think the word you are looking for is “toll”.


  26. To Ian, Leo and Kristian:

    Thanks for your concern regarding transit riders’ need for safety and to disconnect from the present day. I believe however that it should be transit riders’ choice whether they want to disconnect. Furthermore, many transit systems worldwide allow cellphone use without any safety problems. Surely it would be easier to just rig up a timer than to set something up with a cellphone (not to mention cheaper, given the telcos’ extortionate fees 😉 if one were plotting something dastardly.

    Steve: The real point here is that the TTC may have invoked “security” as a stock response to pre-empt debate. They tried the same thing with the design of seating on the new subway cars. Recently, the garbage containers returned to platform level, but in see-through bags, because the problems of litter exceeded the potential risk of having a closed bin.


  27. Kevin,

    Funny how you mentioned media sensationalism because the left-wing media is extremely bad in this area. I wish we could go one month in Toronto without CP24, CITYTV, or the Toronto Star presenting stories where (for example) every Black person who is mistreated in Canada is a form of racism. I think we need to tell those media outlets to just chill out.

    Just look at CP24’s snow storm reports. Whenever a snowstorm is heading to Toronto, they play a military-like tune and then the weather specialist or Meterologist starts talking about the forecast in a serious tone and gets people all frightened.

    Steve: I have to take issue with the idea that those outlets are either left wing or racist. The Star likes to invoke the ghost of Joseph Atkinson, but they seem to play much of the time to a moderate conservative audience, and they’re more in tune with Queen’s Park than City Hall. The fact, however, is that visible minorities are more likely to be mistreated, and in the process make “news”.

    As for sensational coverage, CP24 is just plain funny some days. I woke up about half an hour ago, made tea and am now eating some chicken for breakfast. It’s — drum roll — Breaking News with live coverage from the scene (repeated “live” every half hour for the next day or more). On a more serious note, many in the media are probably wondering whether they overhyped the end-of-the-world coverage for H1N1.


  28. On cell phones and the TTC.

    The best place to start is the rare gaps. When I head to work I sit at the northmost part of the train leaving from downsview. Standing on the platform, or, sitting just about anywhere else on the train I can get reception (I am with Telus) but sitting in the northmost part of the train I cannot. Glencarin station presents a similar challenge, if the train does a stop-and-go I am fine but crew changeovers get me disconnected. These are very small and minor gaps that can be more easily filled without much spending.

    Beyond that, the underground sections of the Yonge line between Bloor station and Eglinton are another good place to focus. I get reception in Bloor station but not in the tunnel north of it. Closing minor gaps like this, IMHO, is where they need to begin the process. Once they can do that successfully, then they can move onto longer tunnel sections, like Eglinton to Finch, (apx 8km long), Bloor around to Eglinton West (also 8km by my count), or Broadview to Vic Park (6km)


  29. While I don’t want to end up on a watchlist by discussing the specifics of how someone might attack the subway, suffice it to say signal won’t pose much of a problem. I have received email in Bloor Station when standing in specific spots. The way to prevent attacks on the subway is by being a society people don’t want to attack, not by hardening the system.

    (I realise that might read differently on my posts re: platform doors but even if we managed to eradicate suicide attempts, the better climate control, better queueing, reduced ambient noise and reduced trash fires would make it worth doing.)

    As for the technology differentials – Bell and Telus are now shipping GSM phones. We are already using some Bell Blackberry 9700s where I work. CDMA will persist for now but realistically is likely to disappear over 3-5 years as devices go through upgrade cycles.

    All that would be required is an in-station microcell similar to those being trialled on aircraft and agreement among the providers to use it. Depending on what the backhaul is it might be possible to add wifi too similar to TPL branches.

    It would be possible to configure the microcells as data only but realistically talking in the tunnels isn’t going to work so this is basically another option for when the subway goes bang and I have to contact my office to tell them I’ll be late rather than queue up and rummage in my pocket for a quarter or leave the system.

    Steve: On the subject of platform barriers and climate control, I remain unconvinced. The movement of trains provides a great deal of the ventillation of stations today. Unless this is replaced by an equivalent air handling system and robust AC, it could get pretty uncomfortable down there without the trains to push air through the stations. In the winter, the “indoor” stations get some heat from the trains. This would be lost if the warming effect of the trains were confined to the tunnels.

    We need to be careful to distinguish between capabilities in stations and systems designed for a closed environment from day one, and retrofits to existing lines. The TTC’s history tells us that a retrofit would do half of the job half as well as it should be done because they can’t afford any more.


  30. Nick writes:
    “Thanks for your concern regarding transit riders’ need for safety and to disconnect from the present day. I believe however that it should be transit riders’ choice whether they want to disconnect.”

    Alas how disconnected can I be when the people on either side of me are carrying on inane conversations? That’s one of the disadvantages of the Queen car: nice views, but too much yakking.

    At least the epidemic of people trying to play their phat rap at top volume on a cellphone speaker while on the TTC is dying down. Perhaps they figured out how lame it sounded, with everything between 250Hz and 2kHz.


  31. If we’re going to say “what would we get for cell revenue” I would suggest it be used primarily for enhancements to station repair and upkeep. Not megaprojects in a few stations, but ensuring tiles are replaced, bins emptied, trash removed, toilets cleaned as often as they would be in a fast food restaurant. There is little more depressing than going to a station you rarely use and see the exact same hole in the ceiling from your last visit.

    I was at Pape yesterday, the display screen has not been replaced with a Onestop. I understand this is being done as part of the station upgrade, but it has been internally gutted. Why not dismount the housing rather than leave it hang there, derelict?

    The comment re:Prius is a good one. Plug-in hybrids and EVs will not pay gas tax unless the charging stations are separate from someone’s general electric bill, which is unlikely. However, the City already raises revenue from residents in the form of MVT and parking permit fees. I’m not wild about poll taxes rather than usage taxes, rather than say GPS road pricing. In any case, revenue from motor vehicle taxes accrues to the General Fund, not the TTC.

    My principal beef is with 705/905 residents who should pay a tax on the parking spaces they use in the 416, including in the basements of highrise commercial buildings they work in or school yards.


  32. Someone who chose to shell out for a Volt should not be punished like someone who just bought an Escalade, and I can therefore stand them not paying quite so much gas tax. The nice thing about the gas tax is that it comes out of the pockets of everyone who doesn’t use public transit (at least instantaneously.)


  33. You need to understand two things about these new types of vehicles:

    First off, Plug-in hybrids have a rather small range suitable for city driving solely on electric power, and it is unlikely that the owners of said vehicles will drive around year after year without filling up at least a few times. Not that I don’t support them as an ideal compromise for the future, but just to say that they won’t be safe from the gas stations altogether. Next, EVs are pie-in-the-sky. When they do go into series production, it will be limited to small test fleets in American or European centres. Batches of 3-400 that won’t see the light of day in far off Canada, not for a few years yet.


  34. Regarding gas taxes and the use of hybrids and electric cars, it should be noted that there are other ways to tax car travel. Tolls are one, but there’s also the fee we pay for our drivers’ licenses and vehicle permits. No way Prius and Volt users escape that.

    Although gas taxes theoretically are supposed to pay for the upkeep of our roads, they have been married to our consumption of gasoline and vehicular emissions. We’ve identified these two items as somethings we want to conserve, so it seems a mistake to me that we should only now consider what we should do now that Priuses and Volts are ‘escaping’ the gas tax.

    To focus on the use and upkeep of our roads, focus on tolls and vehicle registration fees.


  35. James Bow says:

    “Although gas taxes theoretically are supposed to pay for the upkeep of our roads, they have been married to our consumption of gasoline and vehicular emissions. We’ve identified these two items as somethings we want to conserve, so it seems a mistake to me that we should only now consider what we should do now that Priuses and Volts are ‘escaping’ the gas tax.”

    I don’t think that gas taxes have been assigned to pay for roads since the early 60’s. Back then if you bought gasoline and mixed in 2 stroke oil at the station they gave you a receipt that you could mail in to get back your “road tax” since it was not being used on the roads. Construction companies, farmers and commercial boaters get a break on this tax because they are using it to generate income and jobs. I doubt that there are many, if any, taxes that are spent on what they are collected from. It is much too convenient to dump it into general revenue where it can be spent, or miss-spent, on anything.


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