04.02.2013 07:21 AM

Dear Toronto politicians

If you impose tolls and yet more taxes to pay for this Metrolinx thing, you’re all dead men (and women) walking. Make better use of the tax dollars we already entrust you to manage. Thanks.

Sincerely,

Warren and four million friends

31 Comments


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    Christian says:

    So, no taxes, no tolls. Just how do you propose paying for transit in the GTA?


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      Warren says:

      With the taxes WE ALREADY GIVE THEM, genius.


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        Eddie says:

        TTC already is more heavily funded by the fare box than any other major transit system. the real issue is the feds and provincial gov’t aren’t ponying up enough to fund it properly, combined with the seemingly complete inability of the city people to choose a long term plan and implement it (hard to plan long term without long term funding commitments)
        Personally I have no issue with Road tolls or congestion charges if i goes 100% to a smart plan (starting with say a downtown relief line that should have been built 20 years ago)


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        Michael says:

        Wasn’t that Rob Ford’s platform? We were all going to get great new subways at no cost to taxpayers.


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        James Bow says:

        The Toronto Transit Commission and GO Transit are the least subsidized public transit agencies north of the Rio Grande, full stop. Every single transit system in Canada and the United States receives more government subsidy per fare. The TTC’s farebox recovery ratio is 75%. GO Transit’s is in the 80% range. New York’s MTA? 62%. Montreal? 50%. Chicago? 55.2%. Los Angeles? 30.6%.

        What is the end result of the TTC receiving less government subsidy than any other transit agency in North America (with the exception of GO Transit)? Simple: the cost of building and operating our buses, streetcars and subways have to be managed in other ways. By cutting services, for instance. Or by raising fares. So riders are asked to pay higher fares for buses, streetcars and subways which are more crowded, which come less frequently, and which are less reliably scheduled. And if we want to increase service so things aren’t as crowded, or if we want to improve maintenance so that our transit properties aren’t so dirty, or the buses function, we have to raise fares, which we know that nobody likes anyway. So, what do you do?

        Add to this the fact that the provincial government is running an operating deficit of over $10 billion. That there are schools, libraries, roads, police, fire fighters, ambulance services, water, sewer, garbage, health inspectors, hospitals and all of that very important government work to pay for, where do you propose we find that money?

        The taxes we currently pay are already spoken for for these services that you yourself have fought for, Mr. Kinsella. And we have a deficit to fill. Previous governments, and the current Ford administration have all proved that the gravy train doesn’t exist and that we have found every efficiency that we can. And yet road congestion costs this economy over $5 billion per year in lost productivity, and makes everyone, regardless of whether they drive or take transit, extremely frustrated. We need to do something. We know we need to do something. We’ve known this since Bill Davis was in office, but successive premiers from Petersen to Rae to Harris to Eves have ducked the question.

        Only Dalton McGuinty has put forward anything approaching a comprehensive plan that will help reduce the cost that congestion has on our economy. But it won’t be built unless we find the money to pay for it. Politicians need to be honest with us, and admit that we can’t have something for nothing. We are not overtaxed. We are underpaying on the investments that could make our future a lot more productive and prosperous. We need these projects to come about and, to do that, we need to get off our asses and pay for them. Only then will McGuinty’s Metrolinx legacy be worthwhile.


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          Christian says:

          Thanks James. Very nicely summed up. The taxes we currently pay are already spoken for. Warren, based on the vast majority of postings here I think you may want to re-evaluate your position.


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            Warren says:

            Really? That’s funny.


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          Tim says:

          Absolutely spot on. Transit in Toronto and the GTA is underfunded and a new revenue source needs to be agreed upon and implemented before it can be improved. It’s that simple.


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        JamesHalifax says:

        Warren,

        Were you as critical of McGinty’s use of tax dollars when he was moving Gas plants around. Granted, that was only a Billion or so…but still, it ain’t chump change.


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    Darwin O'Connor says:

    Two billion dollars per year is required. If you think there is that much waste tell us where, otherwise your engaged in Rob Ford thinking. All the scandals of the years of Liberal government put together wouldn’t pay for one year of the transit plans.


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      Warren says:

      Fuck you. I’ve done more to make Ford’s life miserable in a day than you’ve done in a year.

      They can better manage the dollars they have. Many other of us have other priorities – public health, homelessness, crime, etc.


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        Cath says:

        Not sure what’s not to understand WK. Why ask taxpayers for on more dime if there’s little evidence the money that they DO collect already isn’t being spent wisely? What particular fuzzy math are they teaching these days? People are tired of throwing away money without seeing concrete results.

        Had a visit with a young fellow this past weekend who just moved to his first apt. in Toronto, from Oshawa. He had been commuting – 90 minutes one way – to his job, using both GO Train and TTC. As it turned out, he did his own math eventually and found that it was cheaper to drive his car to his new place of employment than it was to use public transit. He’s been driving the commute ever since. Now, he’s move in to the city, and guess what? Still cheaper to drive, using alternate routes AND it takes less time than public transit.


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        Darwin O'Connor says:

        I’m glad you’re keeping track of my anti Ford efforts over the years. I do my best with my little blog.

        You don’t need the intellect of Rob Ford to fall into the trap that there is vast amounts of wasted money in government. The media exclusively focus the scandals and boondoggles like ORNGE, you can forget these are the exceptional cases and there are many other government departments and agencies which maybe running smoothly and efficiently.


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    patrick says:

    Then money is going to move from one priority to another:
    There goes your public health – meaning an increase pressure for private health care which is just an excuse for the rich to jump the line.
    Homelessness – not a real priority in a conservative world anyway, other than a means to flaunt outrage and disgust.
    Crime is FALLING. Only the headlines are getting bigger.
    TAX CUTS have been a mantra since Regan and the path to the promised land. After 30 plus years you’d think the scam would be apparent to most but obviously propaganda works and we live in a world of “magical thinking. All these tax cuts have accomplished is to move the tax burden to middle class and convince us that government doesn’t work.
    You are obviously closer connected to government than I so either you are aware of “billions” of dollars of “gravy” (note to self: accuse Warren of “Ford thinking” and watch his head explode) and I mean real waste or every single government of record has been incompetent and corrupt.
    Essentially we are being run by Ford clones.
    Most polls have indicated that people are willing to pay for transit. And as long as that money gathered goes to transit then I don’t think politicians are going to suffer. Those that were going to vote against them will do so anyway. It’s the swing vote that needs to have the details explained.
    People are stupid, though Ford does prove that people occasionally do stupid things.


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      patrick says:

      I meant “People aren’t stupid”


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    james Smith says:

    Speaking of Transit & geniuses, no new taxes you say, perhaps, sounds a little familiar, not sure how you fund the 30 year backlog in transit infrastructure. Most GTHA cities have no problem funding road spending, but can’t run a decent bus company for love nor money. So the obvious conclusion is take all transit systems away from the municipalities, charge them all a set per capita rate & have the province (read Metrolinx) fund & run one system.

    Let me use Burlington as an example, 20% of the fed gas tax for climate change initiatives is used to fund Transit 80% is spent on something called SHAVE & PAVE-genius. Burlington has the lowest funding per capita in the GTHA for transit, the oldest bus fleet, and the lowest modal split for transit in the GTHA and, speaking as a sometime user who’s had his bus cancelled, the crummiest service in the GTHA-genius. Transit funding, while up in all of north america has been cut in Burlie by half a million dollars in the past year-genius.

    So Burlington transit proposed a new budget a month ago without a transit fare increase. Council in their wisdom, with no debate or consultation pulled an 8.4% fare hike from their -genius brains. Mayor Goldring (a former Federal Green Party candidate speaking of geniuses) was quoted in the March 13th Toronto Star without a hint of irony saying: “They (fare increases) should not be done on an ad hoc basis, … There should be some clear rationale.” voted with five other geniuses for an 8.4% fare increase. Burlington now has the 2nd highest transit fares in the GTHA, and the crappiest system-genius.

    Why should geniuses like the above quoted Mr Goldring be allowed to manage Transit? How the Feck are we going to fund the investments we need unless the adults take away the keys from all these geniuses.


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    james Smith says:

    Speaking of these other priorities, they also need good transit to make them possible. Malvern is a perfect example, getting to and from Malvern is almost impossible without a car. Increase a Bus fare 25¢ a trip & for many working low pay jobs means choosing food over transit.


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    Mark N says:

    Usually, I’m right behind you, Warren. On this we disagree. I supect a good shakedown of City Hall could find about 1 billion a year, though most of that would come from salaries. But let’s say 2 billion, as it seems to be the number de jour.

    Since we’ve been putting off basic infrastructure maintainance for decades to keep taxes low (Mel? David? Rob? etc…), that 2 billion will just about be enough to either fix, bury or bronze-plate the Gardiner. Oh, and did you know much of Scarborough is serviced by a water treatment facility that’s more than 100 years old? A rebuild could be done for 100 million, but that just puts off the rebuild. A new facility will cost almost a billion, but would last for decades with little upkeep. Also, some of the older subway stations built to serve the inner suburbs are literally crumbling (70’s cheap concrete) and there’s no money to fix them. There’s also the insane maze of power poles and unburied electrical lines all over the city that date back to the 40’s that need a redo. We’ve got a dump that’s filling up fast, and we still don’t have composting set up for the half the city that lives in towers. Speaking of towers, and cheap concrete, many of those 10-story rentals around the city need either refit or demolition. And where are all the service workers going to live when we price them out of their apartments in Scarborough and Etobicoke? Many of them already take 2 buses to get to the subway. They’d probably benefit from that Eglinton LRT.

    Which we still don’t have enough money for, even if we chopped 5 billion a year from City Hall.


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    bluegreenblogger says:

    Wow, no new taxes huh? The public is bearing the costs of congestion already. The direct costs of lost productivity to businesses imposed by congestion and traffic delays. That raises rthe costs of every loaf of bread, or jug of milk you buy. The indirect costs of extra long commute times. The direct (and indirect) health care costs from the increased air pollution. These things all add up to a bigger number than the costs of alleviating congestion with scalable public transit and roads infrastructure. It is not reasonable that Toronto should continue to shoulder the burden of commuting and congestion costs created by the outlying regions, because Toronto is already under enough pressure paying fior commuters infrastructure. So if the investment in infrastructure is going to return big benefits to taxpayers in the form of improved health, reduced commute times, cheaper and quicker ways to get around, while equitably distributing those costs between all the people enjoying the benefits, why not create a new tax? Is that not what the Liberal Party does? Look at public policy through a lens of what works and is of benefit to all, and figuring out ways to make good things happen? And yes, I say Liberals, because this is regional transportation, and this is a Provincial responsibility. It is definitely NOT for the Toronto taxpayers to provide commuter services for residents of Oakville, Bolton, Pickering etc.


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    james Smith says:

    The Genius who used to be the Ontario Finance Minister cut the federal GST 2%, & we have a federal deficit. Perhaps 0.5%-1.5% should be added to the HST to fix Transit, Crime, Hunger, Homelessness oh; and Zombies.


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      steve says:

      The answer right there folks


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        billg says:

        Well, there ya go. I had no idea that Crime, Hunger and Homelessness only started to be a problem when the GST was cut 2%. Ontario has increased its spending by 76% over the last 9 years, and, has increased its revenues by 48%….how come there’s still Crime, Hunger and Homelessness?


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          james Smith says:

          Mark 14:7


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    Dan says:

    Regional sales tax. Strictly for transit improvement and operations.
    Current money used for this projects should be folded into the city coffers for other things we like -parks, hospitals, outreach programs etc.

    Road tolls aren’t the answer, and given the state of the entire transit system in Toronto, it isn’t fair to ask them to pay for services which are not easily available./convienant to them.


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      James Bow says:

      Dan’s right. Road tolls aren’t the way to go. They’re not all that effective as money raisers, and they put the burden too heavily on too few people. These investments will benefit the region as a whole, so the region as a whole should have a hand in making these investments happen. Tacking on a percentage point on the HST for the GTA and KW will raise a significant portion of the cost needed to make subway construction happen. Most polls I’ve seen indicate that if you can clearly define where the money is to be going, and if the benefit is clear (people like subways. People want better TTC service), they’re willing to accept the added burden, as long as it isn’t too onerous.


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        bluegreenblogger says:

        Wrong. Road tolls do in fact raise a lot of money. If you doubt that, just take a quick look at the valuations on the 407 ETR. People pay happily because they get to sidestep the congestion on all the other routes. Easily done too, with transponders costing maybe $20 to manufacture.
        It does not put the burden on too few people. It puts the burden squarely on all the users of roads, and their contribution to congestion. That includes businesses, who will pass along as much of that cost to the consumers as they can, even while reaping the rewards of less congestion. That is important, not because we want to punish drivers, but because drivers decision making (about when and where to live and drive) does not take into account the costs imposed by their decisions on others. A road toll, or even better, a congestion tax (peak hour tolls) will make the costs transparent to drivers, and will contribute to their decision making. As far as using road tolls to pay for public transit, there should be limits on that. It is not fair, or sensible to set road taxes at a punitive level, but it cannot be ignored that drivers will earn some substantial benefits from enhanced public transit, by enjoying less crowded roads, and less polluted air. Like any tax, there is a point where it becomes self defeating.


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    JamesHalifax says:

    Better idea….

    Don’t get stuck living in a shit-hole like toronto in the first place.


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      James Bow says:

      Shame you feel that way, James. That’s a lot of hatred to have for a lot of decent people living in (in my opinion) a decent city. Frankly, says more about you than it does about us.


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    Derek Pearce says:

    Completely disagree with you WK. There’s no room to cut anything else to pay for the money transit needs. Chopping the cop budget here, the fire budget there and maybe Streets to Homes as well, still wouldn’t come near the guaranteed annual funding necessary.


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    campbell says:

    Completely agree with all above, save for Warren (which is indeed unusual in this space). I don’t believe for a second that the kind of funding required to do anything tangible with Toronto’s transit system can be found within the current funding envelopes at either Queen’s Park or City Hall. The assertion that the politicians should simply find a way to do it with the money they have already, without providing any evidence that this is possible without gutting essential services, sounds like a Ford-ian slip to me. Ironic that someone who has done so much to make Ford’s life miserable appears to be in lock-step with him on transit policy!

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