Category Archives for "Urban Transit"

Nov 16

Comments on Metrolinx draft Regional Transportation Plan

By TAO-admin | Latest News , Press Releases and Open Letters , Publications and Links , Urban Transit

Metrolinx, the regional transportation planning agency for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, released an updated draft Regional Transportation Plan in September,with comments due by late November.  A collaborative of 12 non-government advocacy organizations spanning the health, environment and transportation sectors, including Transport Action Ontario (TAO), submitted comments to Metrolinx.  Our comments can be viewed in the attachment.  They include points on improved transit planning, aligning transit with land use density and new revenue tools.

Our letter received good coverage in a Toronto Star article  on October 31, including comments by TAO’s Peter Miasek.

Following this article, Peter Miasek of TAO and Gideon Forman from the David Suzuki Foundation penned an Op-ed that amplified on the major points in the letter, particularly on getting politics out of transit planning,  the need for new revenue tools and the need to connect land use and transit planning decisions.   The Op-ed was published in the Toronto Star on November 8 and can be viewed here.

Nov 09

Op-Ed: What it will take to make Metrolinx transit plan a reality

By TAO-admin | Latest News , Urban Transit

The Toronto Star has published an opinion/commentary piece authored by Peter Miasek of Transport Action Ontario and Gideon Foreman of the David Suzuki Foundation.  It outlines the three big challenges in achieving real transportation improvements as outlined in the Metrolinx draft regional transportation plan.  These are: too much politics in transit planning, need for new revenue tools and disconnected land use decisions.  These challenges need to be addressed to achieve the transportation benefits promised in the draft plan.

The op-ed can be viewed at this link: https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2017/11/08/what-it-will-take-to-make-metrolinx-transit-plan-a-reality.html

If the link does not work, a PDF version can be viewed here:  TAO-TheStarOpEd2017-11-08

Dec 23

Transport Action Ontario featured in article on road tolls

By TAO-admin | Highways and Bridges , Latest News , Urban Transit

Note to Readers:   with the approval of expressway tolls in Toronto, interest in road tolling has spiked all across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area.  Transport Action Ontario was featured in an article by York Region Media Group on this topic.  The article summarizes our position and reasons why we support such tolls.  The article can be viewed below. 

 

Dec 20, 2016  |  Vote 0    0

Transportation group advocates for toll roads in York Region

Markham Economist & Sun

If you’re a commuter who thinks toll roads coming to Toronto are highway robbery, brace yourself.

While the issue doesn’t have the same traction as it does in Toronto where council agreed in December to pursue the idea, it is slowly percolating, mainly out of the public eye, in York Region.

“We’ve been working behind the scenes (to make it happen here),” said Markham resident Peter Miasek, past-president of Transport Action Ontario, an organization advocating for rail-based public transportation.

The organization supports tolls on highways 400 and 404, with revenues being earmarked for transit and transportation projects in the region.

The organization has talked about toll roads with regional transportation staff and some councillors, including Newmarket Coun. John Taylor and Richmond Hill Coun. Vito Spatafora, who chairs the region’s transportation committee, Miasek said.

Meanwhile, he pointed out the region’s new transportation master plan supports pursuing the possibility of toll roads.

“Support and participate in a constructive dialogue on road pricing among governments, the business sector and general public across the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) and support education, research and demonstration that are essential to effective, efficient and equitable road pricing in the long term,” the plan said.

Miasek, who made a presentation to Toronto’s executive committee on Dec. 1 in favour of the city’s plan to impose tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, said it doesn’t make sense to bring toll roads to York Region until the transit system is at a point where it can offer a reliable alternative to driving.

But with significantly expanded GO train service now being implemented, it makes sense to start discussing the issue, he said.

Toll roads have many benefits, Miasek said.

“It does a number of things. It boosts revenue, it will cut travel time for those people who want to pay, it does wean us off the car,” he said, adding a program to help low-income commuters could be considered.

“I do think our automobiles, and I’m an auto driver like everyone else up here, is past its best before date with all the accidents and the health issues, climate change, congestion and all of that. So, it’s a step in the right direction.”

While Toronto is eyeing a $2 flat toll, Miasek said a fee by distance is fairer and would also help prevent drivers from bailing from the highway onto local roads just before tolls begin.

Ideally, the province would be leading the discussion but likely won’t embrace the political hot potato in advance of the 2018 election, Miasek said.

He acknowledged the issue is controversial.

“I may not want to run for most beloved citizen,” he laughed, adding he’s surprised at the support he’s heard among his friends for toll roads as long as rates are reasonable and the revenues are used to improve transit and transportation infrastructure.

Spatafora, who agreed the region is looking at the concept of road pricing, said he has mixed feelings about toll roads.

Implementing tolls on highways 404 and 400 would be difficult because they are provincial highways but the region could consider them for future regional roads, specifically much-needed and expensive east-west streets needed to ease the region’s serious traffic congestion problems, Spatafora said.

Tolls are worth considering if the revenues are used for the construction of transit and transportation infrastructure, not to fund ongoing operating expenses, Spatafora said.

It’s also crucial they not be run like Highway 407, he said.

“I take a look at what’s happened with Highway 407 and it’s become a money-maker for foreign investors. It kind of defeats the purpose because a lot of people who’d want to use this east-west connection avoid it because of the heavy cost,” he said.

“If it’s a reasonable cost, in terms of the operating expense, then it’s one thing. But when it becomes a gouge, like it has been with the 407, that’s where I’m hesitant and have concerns.”

Tolls shouldn’t be implemented until the region’s transit system is more developed, Spatafora said.

Tolls can cause drivers to migrate to surrounding non-toll roads, meaning traffic patterns are just shifted rather than alleviated, Elliott Silverstein, manager of government relations in the Canadian Automobile Association’s Thornhill office, said.

The CAA and Conference Board of Canada produced a report in 2010 which showed motorists in Ontario pay for 70 to 80 per cent of road infrastructure costs through fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees.

That jumps to “well over 100 per cent” in the GTHA, showing motorists already shoulder more than their fair share of transportation costs, Silverstein said.

On Jan. 1, drivers will begin paying 4.3 cents more in gas taxes as part of the carbon tax, putting more of a burden on motorists, he said.

Governments need to look at other options other than tolls to manage traffic congestion, Silverstein said.

Dec 02

Toronto Mayor Opts for Road Tolls to fund Transit Expansion

By TAO-admin | Latest News , Urban Transit

Original Post November 25, 2016.   See update as of December 2, 2016 at end of posting

The City of Toronto is facing a major budget shortfall for 2017 – both for operating costs and capital costs.  The problem is not that spending is too high, but that revenues are too low.  Following extensive research, City staff has identified a number of revenue options, ranging from higher residential property taxes, increased land transfer taxes, hotel tax, reinstitute vehicle registration tax and implement expressway tolling.   These will be subject to additional analysis and public consultation.

 

However, in a bold and remarkable speech at the Toronto Region Board of Trade on November 24 (with TAO in the audience), Toronto Mayor Tory publically stated his preference for tolls on the Gardiner and Don Valley Expressways, raising about $200M/yr to be dedicated for transit capital expansion.  The statement caused a Canada-wide media sensation, with plenty of comments pro/con.

 

TAO has long supported new revenue tools for transit, especially ones like road pricing that raise revenue and incent drivers to switch to more sustainable transportation modes. We will continue to advocate for and support efforts to introduce such tools in Toronto and other Ontario municipalities.

 

Update as per December 2, 2016

On December 1, Toronto Executive Committee considered various staff reports outlining numerous new revenue sources to be considered for the City’s 2017 operating and capital budgets.  These included road pricing, as well as the other tools cited in the original post, above.   Transport Action Ontario made a formal deputation with the following key points:  urging City to talk to other GTHA municipalities, pushing the province for leadership, supporting road tolls, recommending other big-ticket revenue sources and encouraging transparency and accountability of the Fund.

Our deputation can be viewed here:  tao-deputationtotoronto2016-12-01

 

Executive Committee did support road tolls as well as a limited suite of other tools.  The recommendations now go to Budget Committee and City Council.  Stay tuned!

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