Report recommends distance-based transit fares, road tolls
Joshua Freeman, cp24.com
Published Tuesday, January 29, 2013 12:30PM EST
Last Updated Tuesday, January 29, 2013 4:21PM EST
Commuters who travel farther on transit should pay more to use the system, a new report is recommending.
The study, released Tuesday, explores new revenue options to fund transit. It notes that The Big Move – Metrolinx’s regional transit plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area – will cost $50 billion plus significant operating costs.
“There is a large gap between the funds available and the costs of financing and funding these plans,” the report, titled “Financing Roads and Public Transit in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area” states.
With the exception of GO Transit, riders are charged a flat rate on most transit systems throughout the region.
“This inefficiency encourages urban sprawl because people can live far from work and commute by transit at low fares,” the report states. “Flat fares also discourage people from using transit for short trips, and this low demand makes it difficult to justify expanding service to nearby suburbs.”
Riders should also have to pay less when they travel in off-peak hours, the report says.
The independent 116-page study was commissioned by the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario, an umbrella group representing various construction industry stakeholders.
“The principal is that everyone should dig a little bit deeper if we’re going to have a region where everyone can move around more efficiently,” said Andy Manahan, Executive Director of the group, in an interview with CP24 Tuesday morning. “This isn’t a revolutionary concept.”
Other cities, such as Vancouver, London, Paris and Sydney already charge transit riders more for taking longer trips.
The report also calls for time-varying road tolls to be implemented alongside changes to transit fees. At the moment, Highway 407 is the only tolled highway in the GTHA.
Other recommendations include implementing a commercial parking sales tax or a parking levy in municipalities throughout the GTHA, as well as a regional sales tax or fuel tax.
The public should also presented with simple and consistent objectives when tolls or fee changes are implemented, the report says.
The recommendations come at a key moment for transit, as the city and the province look to the public to get feedback on solutions to the region’s serious transit issues.
Speaking at a news conference at Queen’s Park Tuesday, incoming premier Kathleen Wynne said new revenue tools to fund transit are a certainty.
“It’s not whether we’re going to create a revenue stream (for transit). It’s which of those tools we’ll use,” Wynne said.
The City of Toronto is also launching a series of public meetings in February to find out what citizens think the city should do to alleviate clogged roads, while Metrolinx is also hosting a series of public meetings about The Big Move through February.
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