Transit Town Hall Minutes — from February 25, 2013

subway_ttc_transitThe speakers were Rosario Marchese (facilitator/host) and representatives from the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Richard Joy, and the former Chief Planner for the City of Toronto and Paul Bedford (planner at U of T and Ryerson).

Canada is the only G8 nation without a national strategy on transportation. We currently have a $6B per year gridlock problem, in terms of lost productivity, which is expected to worsen to $15B per year by 2031. It was suggested that, in terms of traffic congestion, it would be like the population of the City of Kingston moving to the Toronto region every year, or the greater Montreal area moving here by 2031.

The current regional transportation system is not adequate for the population it serves. This can be seen in: infrequent service schedules; inadequant service areas outside of Toronto; inefficient linkages among the various transportation modes, both within and outside of Toronto (TTC, Go Train, etc.); too expensive, particularly if having to combine transit fares from more than one municipality. Metrolinx has a plan but the question is how to fund it.

Summary of comments:

  • The current commute in the Toronto region is 80 minutes – we placed 19th out of 23 major North American cities;
  • Funding for a new plan cannot come from existing sources as they are all tapped out, and must come from a mix of new sources – new taxes/fees that would be designated for transportation use alone;
  • While a national strategy is needed, it is recognized that this cannot wait for the Federal government, as given past history; it may take too long or never happen. Decisions need to be made regarding what the province and municipality can do and then aim to include the Federal level as soon as possible;
  • 66% of members of the Board of Trade recognize transportation as a major concern and are ready to embrace a national plan. The B of T will be coming out with a recommendation, re: funding mix, in the near future;
  • We need a dedicated and predictable funding plan, i.e. a 4 year plan that will invest $2 billion per year, in addition to what is being spent currently, for the next 30 years. It is expected that this type of plan/strategy will cost about $65 billion. This is high due to the lack of action towards improving transportation over the last few decades;
  • The funding mix needs to be economically fair to all, including those who have been hit by cuts most in the last few years;
  • The answer has to involve municipal, provincial and federal POVs as well as those of residents from Toronto and outside – this is a regional problem, requiring a regional approach;
  • Need a variety of transportation methods, i.e. building more subways alone is not the solution as 60% of riders use surface vehicles;
  • We have lots of infrastructure, i.e. extensive railway track, but we don’t use it efficiently;
  • The cost has to be borne by all, car owners, public transportation users, etc.
  • Not doing anything will have huge consequences – economic, social, political, etc.

Related Reading:

City of Toronto – http://www.feelingcongested.ca/#home
Metrolinx – http://www.metrolinx.com/en/regionalplanning/bigmove/big_move.aspx Toronto Region Board of Trade – http://www.bot.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Infrastructure_Committee

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