Where to Find Money for Public Transit?

Big Move Implementation Economics:Revenue Tool Profiles(230 page pdf, AECOM.KPMG, prepared for Metrolinx, Apr. 2, 2013)

Also discussed here: The Big Move: A sneak peek at Metrolinx’s short list of ‘revenue tools’ for expanded transit(Tess Kalinowski , Toronto Star, Apr. 2, 2013)

And here: Toll roads work but don’t use them to subsidize public transit(National Post, Andrew Coyne, Apr. 3, 2013)

Today we review a report which assessed a wide range of possible revenue options to cover the $50 B cost of improved public transit over the next 25 years for the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTAH), the largest population centre in Canada. While a downtown cordon congestion charge was not recommended because of a lack of alternative mobility modes, an innovative vehicle mileage charge (VKT) using GPS technology was suggested that could generate almost $2B/yr in the next decade, as well as highway tolls that could generate up to $1.5 B/yr and reduce the demand for road use and the resulting pollution. The report includes a useful analysis of revenue potentials from existing congestion pricing experiences in London, Stockholm, and Manchester.

Journalist and road pricing advocate, Andrew Coyne, cautions against  road pricing to subsidize public transit. Road pricing can reduce congestion and the resulting more smoothly running traffic benefits both those who use the roads and those who use transit. THAT becomes the attraction to encourage drivers to use transit, not cheaper fares as passengers seek quicker commute times (and convenience and comfort) above other points. As for the drivers, without some check on road use via appropriate pricing, any speed-up of traffic would be temporary and congestion would redevelop. Further, subsidized public transit contributes to sprawl which road pricing discourages. A final selection of options will be part of a strategy to be proposed by Metrolinx, the transit authority, for government approval in June 2013 following extensive public consultation.

Toronto Skyline

Toronto Skyline (Photo credit: Bobolink)

To see Key Quotes and Links to key reports about this post, click HERE


3 Responses

  1. In an interview in today’s Weekend Herald for a canvas investigation on the so-called City of Snails, Mr Brown referred to two road charging schemes as options to raise $400 million extra for roading and public transport in each of the next 30 years.

  2. Toronto isn’t alone in going this route. Metrolinx, the province’s regional transportation authority, is also working on a strategy to pay for a massive public transit expansion throughout the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton. The agency’s “Big Move” plan requires about $50 billion over 25 years. And less than a quarter of that amount has so far been committed by Ottawa and Queen’s Park.

    • You’re quite right. Tolls and congestion charges would pay $2B/yr and the recent budget provides the means for future transit using the 400 series highways around the GTA to be extended to other metro areas in similar need (such as the City of Ottawa whose first tiny move in this direction will cost over $2B) after the “pilot” year around Toronto (according to quotes from the responsible provincial minister)

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