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Toronto Transit: A Modest Proposal

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posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 08:53 AM
I don't often reference journalists, as individuals, in my home town Toronto, but Edward Keenan has written a very good article on the transit situation in The Toronto Star, that should be read and pondered by all interested parties.

Here is a telling quote:

It shows the per-rider subsidy of major North American and Canadian transit systems — that is, the amount of money per passenger that the government chips in to fund the system over and above what those passengers pay in fares. Chicago’s is $2.04, Boston’s $2.12, Los Angeles’ $3.00, New York’s $1.52 — and those numbers are in U.S. dollars, so you can bump them up about a third to figure Canadian equivalents. Closer to home, Vancouver’s subsidy is $1.86 per rider, Calgary’s $1.69, York Region’s $4.56. And then there’s Toronto: 90 cents per rider.

Chicago Bus Fare $2.00 + $2.04 (Subs.) + $1.33 (Exchange) = $5.37 (Real cost in Canadian $)

Toronto Bus Fare: $2.90 + $ .90 = $3.80 (Real Cost)

In Chicago a transit rider pays $2.66 (Can.) for a ride versus $2.90 paid by a transit rider in Toronto.

During the last mayoralty election in Toronto, I started a number of threads focusing on the so-called "Smart Track" financing plan put forward by the subsequently elected candidate, John Tory.

This plan, in my stated opinion, would greatly increase the debt load of the city because the Tax Increment Financing aspect of Mr. Tory's plan would not have provided enough tax revenue to enable the city to clear the cost of transit expansion, except over a disproportionately long period of time, as compared to the time it would take the federal and provincial levels of government to clear the cost of their contributions to the project.

I also indicated that the plan fitted in nicely with a trend in government, noted by the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, of downloading costs to tax payers in an overall effort to reduce budget deficits. The Ontario government, quite egregiously, in my view, went so far as to congratulate itself on doing this sort of thing.

Objections to this trend were the cornerstone of the political program of the much maligned incumbent Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford. Naturally, I was firmly in the Ford camp on this issue, to the point of complete indifference to his roundly criticized and often lampooned personal behavior.

When one looks at transit issues in Toronto, one becomes aware of the impact that positions taken by the province of Ontario and by the federal government of Canada, have on our local situation.

Mr. Keenan's article has the merit of isolating a very telling metric that bears on the transit picture, that is, the amount of subsidy received by the Toronto Transit Commission, to cover operating expenses.

The question becomes, "What are our politicians to do about this situation?" To frame it even more sharply, "What are we citizens to instruct our politicians to do about this situation?"

The tendency nowadays in government, which can be seen in publications of the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, is to increase taxation, increase user fees, invent new taxes, anything but insist that the higher levels of government put more into the municipalities.

By the end of his article, Mr. Keenan seems to suggest, or leaves the implication dangling, that it is time for our local politicians to confront the other levels of government and to demand more money from them.

Of course this needs to be done, but it begs another question, "Where is this money going to come from?"

The vast majority of funds available to any government comes from taxation. Other levels of government will have to increase tax levels through increases in rates or by taxing the hitherto untaxed.

Here we get into issues of tax evasion, tax avoidance, sequestered offshore money and the whole litany of corrupt practices associated with what I call "gubmint".

This is what our politics should be about.

If Toronto's transit problems cannot be solved by addressing those issues, then a much larger question looms, and that is, "Can Canadians afford to run Canada?"

Is this country, because of its immense size, and the immense cost of building and maintaining a national infrastructure, simply too expensive for a nation of thirty three million people to run?

Should we be demanding a subsidy from the Americans in exchange for maintaining their national superstructure?

It can get comical.

During the last mayoral campaign, it became obvious to me that the real Mayor of Toronto is the Premier of the Province of Ontario and that the elected mayor, no matter who that might be, is simply a functionary in the most important questions related to the city and money.

Not to be too conspiratorial, but I believe that this fact is what led to the tremendous animus in the media, directed against the former mayor, Rob Ford, who, faced with the financial problems discussed here, began to kick over the traces and to forget just who was running the show in Toronto.

I think John Tory is a decent enough human being to realize that what were issues for Rob Ford, are issues for him too.

What to do?

It seems to me that it is time for the City of Toronto to remove the insulating layer that isolates the provincial and federal governments from the democratic wrath of the citizens of our great city, whose numbers make up approximately one tenth of the population of the entire country.

My modest proposal is that the City of Toronto refuse, any longer, to participate in the management of the Toronto Transit Commission, and to turn its operation over to either the provincial or the federal government.

This is a notion that comes out of the Mel Lastman school of hardball politics. Mel wanted to take the city out of the province entirely to get greater control over taxes raised in the city.

One way or the other, the province and the federal government must be made to face their responsibilities in Toronto, which, in case you didn't know, is one of the major economic engines of the entire country.

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 09:23 AM
So the Province and Fed should fund Toronto's public transit? I live in Gananoque why the hell should I pay extra taxes so you can take a GoTrain to work? How about all the peeps that pay $25+ a day to park use the PT system and put that money into a fund for their fancy new lines.

We don't even have a single bus in my little town! Maybe you wouldn't mind paying for one so I can go bar hopping and hit the casino on a Saturday afternoon.

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 09:35 AM
a reply to: Kukri

It would be interesting to compare the per capita government subsidies paid to communities all over the country, including Gananoque with the per capita subsidy paid to Toronto. I don't have the figure but I would bet that many, if not most smaller communities in this country are more heavily subsidized on a per capita basis than Toronto is.

People need to remember that Canada is run on tax money and that a very large percentage of the tax money used to run the country is raised in Toronto. The present state of the city's transit system costs the provincial and federal governments hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenue every year because the system as it is now cannot support the amount of commercial activity that an up to date system would be able to support.

This not just me talking. This kind of thing has been the subject of studies by the Canadian Federation of Municipalities and other institutions. It is in the interest of all Canadians for Toronto to have a transit system adequate to the commercial potential of the city. It will improve life everywhere else by making more tax money available to be spent across the country.
edit on 23-11-2016 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 09:40 AM
a reply to: ipsedixit

Its a pyramid system with the Fed Corp. nearer the top while Provinces Cities and Townships fall into line .Its the Multi-National Corporations that call the shots and use their revolving doors into the political spectrum to get bills / laws and what nots like zoning to ultimately benefit them .We Plebs get some of the crumbs and pay the most for the infrastructure that the Corporations are then subsidized or given tariffs to offset their costs . At the end of the day it may be that the infrastructure is sold off into the private sector .

Mike Hudson's latest on what is really going on .Its Orwellian where the meaning of words and terms are turned upside down in front of our eyes ,and the rhetoric becomes the new normal . I guess they don't mind re-making history books every now and again to keep up with their own spin .

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 09:44 AM
a reply to: ipsedixit

As I mentioned we have a casino so technically we probably get a higher subsidy than most. Of course that is from OLG profits not an individual's taxes which makes it an apples and oranges comparison.

ETA: That money gets funneled into municipal works and allows us to have substantially lower property taxes than a lot of communities.

Win,Win. Except at the casino which is why I don't go there to gamble, just the for cheap meals and drinks, hmmm I think it's chicken and rib night tonight.

edit on 11/23/2016 by Kukri because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 09:50 AM
a reply to: Kukri

The government does have ways of raising money, like OLG, but I think my point, for the country as a whole, is largely true. The most important point is that the inadequacy of the Toronto Transit system costs governments in Canada, at all levels, hundreds of millions of dollars every year. This points to a failure of stewardship at all levels.

It is in everyone's interest, their financial interest, to bring the TTC up to speed.

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 09:58 AM
a reply to: the2ofusr1

I'm watching the video now. It looks great. I'm going to have to get this guy's books. (I hope they are available on kindle.)

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 11:10 AM
a reply to: ipsedixit

I've read your OP three times and am still somewhat confused.

I guess my overall question would be, why doesn't your local or state government impose a system whereby those who drive to work everyday find themselves having to pay more to do so? We do that in the metro areas of Texas. What they do is they take out lanes of a freeway and dedicate those lanes to HOT/HOV lanes; single passenger cars can access those lanes for a daily fee that gets charged via a transit chipset that is read as they travel along the HOT/HOV lanes. Its basically pay to play. The funds collected are then diverted to the Metro bus and train lines to build out more public transit. As that build out widens and enlarges, there's more riders on the bus and train lines which helps defray the cost of the public transit system.

Its not a perfect system and in the US public transit is plagued with crime problems. But in Toronto, you shouldn't have those type problems so I'd think it would work even better in Toronto.

posted on Nov, 23 2016 @ 02:28 PM
a reply to TonyS:

I think variations on this idea do float through discussions on transit funding, locally. I'm not sure what the practical considerations in doing this are. In essence it amounts to a toll charged to vehicles to enter the city.

I do want to point out that from what I can gather, urban transit in Texas is subsidized to the tune of 66% of the funds required in the sector. Locally raised money only accounts for 44.4% of the funds in the system. The table below lays things out.

A rough calculation of the situation in Toronto, based on the figures in the OP, indicates that only 24% of the total cost of a Toronto transit rider's fare is subsidized from sources outside the transit system itself. There is a substantial difference between the two jurisdictions.

I didn't read the linked .pdf in detail. I'm just giving a cursory response.

It is wild to think that "Cowboy Capitalist" Texas (actually, giving the real credit where it is due, the Federal Transit Administration) subsidizes public transit more than "Socialist" Ontario, but of course, Americans are afflicted with the outlandish notion that things actually have to work. Canadians not so much.
edit on 23-11-2016 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 24 2016 @ 11:46 AM
Speak of the devil and his mischief . . .

Tory set to announce tolls on the DVP and Gardiner

Toronto Mayor John Tory is set to endorse a controversial introduction of road tolls on the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to raise $300 million a year for his cash-starved government, the Star has learned.

So now people are going to have to pay to come into the city.

I was talking about this to a friend of mine this morning, a Tibetan lady.

She said "Good".

"In Tibet there are many like that. Everybody own part of the road so you pay and pay and pay to go."

I raised my eyebrows and adopted my plumiest Rosedale accent, the one I reserve for people whom I suspect are my moral and intellectual superiors.

"Tush, tush Tootsie (my nickname for her awkward Tibetan sounding appellation). I think you would be in favor of putting a turnstyle on the sidewalk every fifty feet."

"Maybe every block", she said.

So much for medievalism. Is it really productive?

Clearly this is a policy of desperation.

Don't say you weren't warned Toronto. In thread after thread I told you that Tory was going to be the agent of provincial downloading.

Prepare to be nickel and dimed to death by user fees and new taxes.

Personally, I don't believe this is the way to do things. I think the feds and the province have to get real about the importance of making sure that Toronto runs like a top. There may be short term pain in some quarters of the budgets, but the long term gain will offset it in the long term. If it doesn't we are all sunk anyway.
edit on 24-11-2016 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 11:57 AM

When I went into the pub for lunch today, I walked into the middle of a "live" televised rant from the Mayor of Toronto, the subject of which was the following:

The Premier of the Province of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne, has announced that the province will not permit the City of Toronto to charge tolls on certain roads into the city. The provincial government is, instead, going to double the portion of the gasoline tax alloted to municipalities. There is other funding in the pipeline, as well, from the province to the city, but the details of that have not been spelled out, to my knowledge.

Premier Kathleen Wynne is slamming the brakes on Toronto Mayor John Tory’s plan to toll the Don Valley Parkway and the Gardiner Expressway by pledging additional transit funding, the Star has learned.

Wynne is to announce Friday at a Richmond Hill bus yard that the provincial government will not give Toronto council permission to impose the levies on the two city-owned highways.

At the same time the premier will outline “hundreds of millions of dollars” in new money annually for municipalities with public transit systems.

“We’re trying to help people get ahead and stay ahead — even a toll of $20 more a week is not affordable for Ontario families,” an official confided.

It was good to hear the Mayor getting exercised on this subject and venting his pique in the direction of the Province and to a lesser degree to the federal government.

As this thread and others have pointed out, the city cannot meet its obligations in transit and other departments without funds, and it cannot raise sufficient funds without fund raising options which have been removed by the province. Mr. Tory is quite rightly, annoyed.

Kudos to him.

The main difference between John Tory and Rob Ford is that Ford did not want to squeeze blood from a stone by way of more taxes and user fees. Mr. Tory is willing to apply pressure to the stone but is exasperated when the Premier of the Province removes the vice grips from his grasp.

My exasperation is with the federal government. We cannot afford F-35s. We cannot afford overseas military bases. We cannot afford to tag along with the Americans on every stupid military adventure they undertake. We cannot afford to buy, refurbish and operate delapidated Royal Navy U-boats. We are 33 million people paying the overhead on an area just a hair under the size of Europe, population 743.1 million people.

We can't afford gubmint, i.e. perks, allowances, lavish retirements, golden handshakes, crazy budget allotments, inflated contracts, poor planning on purpose, etc.

Cut those costs.

Give us more than eight cents out of every tax dollar. Cut the fluff. Transit infrastructure generates taxes and increases commercial activity. When that happens, maybe we can do some of the other things.

Maybe we should be leasing jets from the Americans instead of buying. Maybe we really should give up globalism as a hobby and put Canada first. Maybe the Prime Minister should realize that Canada is a country, not a vehicle for international posturing by the diplomatic set.
edit on 27-1-2017 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 12:44 PM

originally posted by: Kukri
So the Province and Fed should fund Toronto's public transit? I live in Gananoque why the hell should I pay extra taxes so you can take a GoTrain to work? How about all the peeps that pay $25+ a day to park use the PT system and put that money into a fund for their fancy new lines.

We don't even have a single bus in my little town! Maybe you wouldn't mind paying for one so I can go bar hopping and hit the casino on a Saturday afternoon.

I like that casino.

posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 12:59 PM
a reply to: ipsedixit

It was also noticed that Wynne did not offer Tory an alternative plan for raising money or giving him money because there is no money right now and obviously no new ideas.

However, I am wondering if we start charging the U.S. more for our oil - to put Canada first - this might increase our bottom line, after all their oil needs increase substantially each year. As well, once the Trans-Mountain pipeline is built, this may inject much-needed revenue. But, from the article below, we are playing a risky game relying mainly on our resources.

“Yeah, it’s great that resources are there to be exploited. But we’ve got to keep our eye on that comprehensive wealth bottom line and make sure that it’s growing along with GDP. The story in the report is that it hasn’t been growing at the same rhythm as GDP — nothing even close to the same rhythm, actually.” Governments need to examine whether they are getting enough rents from oil and gas development, said Vaughan, and how to use those revenues in the difficult policy fields of human capital. They include education, innovation, infrastructure and productivity gains — the kinds of headache-inducing policy areas that have bedevilled Canadian governments for two decades. With the global community committed to a low-carbon future, the comprehensive wealth report highlights the vulnerability of the country’s dependence on fossil fuels driving GDP. “Unless Canada makes those investments in the human capital to make that bridge, we’re going to be left behind — and then this imbalance we’ve seen will only increase,” said Vaughan.
edit on 01CST01America/Chicago00010131 by InTheLight because: (no reason given)

We will be raking it in (est. Trans-Mtn: $21 billion a year distributed to provinces other than Alberta/BC; $15 billion per year Keystone XL - not sure how that will be distributed) - est. total = $36 billion to throw around. If we up the cost of oil, we can increase that substantially, after all we will be taking a hit in the steel industry, so fair is fair.

As for the F35s: The cost per fighter unit will be $85 million in 2019.

So one billion is a thousand million, how many planes can be buy with $36 billion? Too much, with lots left over for transit and infrastructure.
edit on 01CST01America/Chicago03010131 by InTheLight because: (no reason given)

Or, we could have our pick like the PAKFA (T-50).
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posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 05:05 PM
a reply to: InTheLight

"Roll out the barrels!"

I'm glad the good times are here. The mayor obviously needs to relax. I wish I'd known the secret of increasing profits when I had my lemonade stand as a kid. I should have been charging $20 a glass.

posted on Jan, 27 2017 @ 09:58 PM

originally posted by: ipsedixit
a reply to: InTheLight

"Roll out the barrels!"

I'm glad the good times are here. The mayor obviously needs to relax. I wish I'd known the secret of increasing profits when I had my lemonade stand as a kid. I should have been charging $20 a glass.

You would have got $20 a glass if the temperature was 102 degrees.

posted on Nov, 25 2017 @ 10:14 PM
There is an interesting new development on the Toronto Transit horizon that I, in my saintly, humble and self defacing way, am loath to take credit for and that is a proposal by what's his name, the new leader of the provincial Tories, to take over financial responsibility for the subway system in Toronto.

Sources say the 80-page platform would have the provincial government assume financial responsibility for the Toronto Transit Commission’s subway network, leaving the buses and streetcar lines to the city, if the Conservatives topple Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals on June 7.

Tories believe the uploading promise — similar to one made by former PC leader Tim Hudak in the 2014 election — will be more popular with voters now that the subway extends into Vaughan and has become more of a regional transportation utility.

With direct provincial control, a PC administration could expedite the TTC’s planned downtown relief line along Carlaw Ave., ensure completion of the controversial Scarborough subway and extend the Yonge line to Richmond Hill.

This needs to be done. It should have been done long ago. I'm glad that PC Leader Patrick Brown intends to do it. Toronto's mayor, John Tory must be pleased, surely, although in everything money and politics the devil is in the details. However, the city has been dining out with the province and the feds for years now and every time they go to lunch together, the city needs to take out a loan. This simply cannot be allowed to continue.

The government that collects the lion's share of the taxes must pay the lion's share of the bills and I am glad that Mr. Brown realizes this. Toronto is too important to be allowed to go to seed.

edit on 25-11-2017 by ipsedixit because: (no reason given)

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posted on Nov, 25 2017 @ 10:17 PM
Relief line! Get it! Their learned? predecessors did not plan for the population explosion and those now in the position of planning, therefore, are now screwed with options.

Give them a break and a chance.

posted on Nov, 25 2017 @ 10:30 PM
Many will resent the spending of money, provincial money, in Toronto, but for the province as a whole to prosper, Toronto has to run like a high performance engine. If it does, there will ultimately be more tax money for the hinterland as the city's capacity for commercial activity increases. I know it is a hard sell but I think it is the right way forward.

posted on Nov, 25 2017 @ 10:36 PM
Don't forget that Toronto is expanding substantially into the surrounding areas, such as Halton and Hamilton...gobbling up as much resources as possible to accommodate the incoming populations that will sustain our programs.

Affordable housing lies outside of Toronto, but you already know this.

posted on Nov, 25 2017 @ 10:46 PM
a reply to: InTheLight

Very true. I'm hoping that some of the hundreds of millions of tax dollars lost every year (according to studies) due to Toronto's inability to handle more commercial traffic, starts to come on stream. If that happens we should have a better standard of living all around, which is so important in the north, where the standard of living issues lead to severe social problems.

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