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Free TTC?

Soundstream

TRIBE Member
Free TTC service the better way
With higher property taxes and the municipal and provincial governments covering transit expenses, all fares could be eliminated


MICHAEL HLINKA

Over the past few weeks, Toronto Mayor David Miller has been negotiating with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty to receive extra provincial support for the TTC. The mayor wants a portion of gasoline taxes to be directed toward his city's transit system.

Miller hopes the formula will be based on ridership rather than population, as this would be more favourable for Toronto. If he gets his way, he will be able to hold the line on fares — an important campaign promise.

That's what Miller wants. But there's a historic opportunity here, one that would forever change the way our public transportation system operates.


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Responses: Would you pay higher property taxes for free transit?
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Here's what I think the mayor should be proposing:

From this point forward, the province will assume responsibility for all capital expenditures. In return, the city of Toronto will pick up the rest of the TTC tab and provide free service to everyone — and generously share the political credit. (This would deliver the GTA to the Ontario Liberal party for a generation — for those who care, as I suspect the Premier might.)

A few quick points about the TTC budget and the distinction between capital expenditures and operating expenses. Over the past three years (2000 to 2002), capital expenditures, that is, spending on things like buses, trains and the line itself, has averaged $311 million. This tab would thereafter be picked up by the province and, yes, it would control the purse strings, allowing the ruling party to reward its friends and supporters with lucrative contracts.

The city of Toronto would take care of the operating expenses, the day-to-day costs like wages, fuel, etc. Over the most recently reported past three years (the 2003 annual report is not yet available), cash operating expenses have climbed from $775 million to $885 million. These are offset, albeit slightly, by other revenue sources such as property rental and advertising, which have increased from $35 million to $47 million. That leaves an additional $740 million in 2000 climbing to $838 million in 2002. This is how much the city would have to come up with.

Now this is how I'd like to see it come up with that money:

Toronto should levy an additional property tax on the 900 million square feet of residential space in the GTA. Based on the TTC's 2002 operating expenses, that would work out to about 93 cents per foot per year. For someone like me who lives in a 690 square foot condominium, I'd be dinged for an extra $642 per annum. Not that paying higher taxes particularly pleases me, but at least I'd be contributing to a program that is good for almost everyone.

The benefit to a middle-class, property-owning, frequent TTC riding Torontonian is obvious: You pay a few hundred dollars more in taxes and save $1,000 in fares. Think of the working couple with children where both parents use transit to get to work. There are a lot of these folks — they'd be looking at a pretty good windfall. Consider the TTC ridership. It is wildly overrepresented by those at the lower end of the socio-economic scale. Many of those people are not property owners. Now they would travel to work for free. A de facto pay increase would be given overnight to Toronto's working poor, money that would allow saving in order for them to become property owners. The Canadian dream in action.

But this plan also benefits property-owning non-riders, especially those who travel the city in their Mercedes and Caddies. I'm talking, of course, about some of Toronto's more financially fortunate.

Moving people by public transit is more energy efficient than the one person per vehicle model. Toronto is a huge importer of oil products, which means that there is a matching outflow of wealth. This hits all of us and the more money you make, the more you consume, the harder the hit.

Gridlock, which inevitably means highly trained professionals sitting idly and unproductively in traffic, costs the "system" (read: the elites) thousands of dollars a year.

Finally, more TTC utilization and less traffic means lower fuel consumption and less wear and tear on infrastructure, which means a cleaner, greener city. Who can argue with any of that?

Overlaying all of this is a larger social issue. The foremost economic challenge our city faces isn't a lack of wealth. Rather, it's the uneven distribution of it. Raising property taxes and using the proceeds to eliminate TTC fares would be an explicit recognition that government has a legitimate role in effecting at least a limited redistribution of wealth. Enlightened and just public policy truly begins at home ... in the place that I call home.

Toronto is a city that works. Providing free TTC for everyone at all times at the expense of relatively wealthy property owners would make it work just that much better.
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Personally I think this is a poor solution (the one proposed by the author) for a couple of reasons.

Mainly because I am of the belief that services should be supported by a user-pay format. It is one thing to raise taxes slightly, but to hit up every homeowner with on average, an extra $1,000+ a year in taxes (that would be for a modest 1,100 sq ft home) is quite steep. Many will not use the TTC service at all, or at least not nearly enough to offset the extra tax costs.

In addition, lots of the riders taking advantage of the free service will be from outside of Toronto, and will therefore not be contributing any taxes.

At least Miller's proposal is a bit more realistic.

*I hope I don't get timelined*

Cheers ... Ian :)
 
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Zorro

TRIBE Member
When I lived in SanFran/Berkely the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) you would pay a fare based on how far your destination was. if it was two stops it might only be 1.25 if it was 10 it might be as high as 4.00$. Now of course those are just examples as the fares I think coverd more of the distance travelled as instead of how many Actule stops it was. But it always seemed like a fair way to run it. Not to mention they were sparkling clean those trains they had.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Zorro
When I lived in SanFran/Berkely the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) you would pay a fare based on how far your destination was. if it was two stops it might only be 1.25 if it was 10 it might be as high as 4.00$. Now of course those are just examples as the fares I think coverd more of the distance travelled as instead of how many Actule stops it was. But it always seemed like a fair way to run it. Not to mention they were sparkling clean those trains they had.


BART has required state city and federal funds since the day it was openned. Its actually a far bigger financial nightmare than the TTC.

Nowehere near enough riders of the transit system in San Fran.
 

Soundstream

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Zorro
When I lived in SanFran/Berkely the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) you would pay a fare based on how far your destination was. if it was two stops it might only be 1.25 if it was 10 it might be as high as 4.00$. Now of course those are just examples as the fares I think coverd more of the distance travelled as instead of how many Actule stops it was. But it always seemed like a fair way to run it. Not to mention they were sparkling clean those trains they had.
I agree on the pay-per-use format. Somewhat like the 407: the more you travel, the more you pay.

And I don't mind if some of the funding is subsidized by increased gasoline taxes, as it benefits us all. I just don't agree with the silly suggestion of all users getting to ride it for free.

OTIS: I figured it was in the politics forum, but the general forum usually creates more fights with these kinds of topics. ;)

Cheers ... Ian :)
 
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kat

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Soundstream
.Mainly because I am of the belief that services should be supported by a user-pay format. It is one thing to raise taxes slightly, but to hit up every homeowner with on average, an extra $1,000+ a year in taxes (that would be for a modest 1,100 sq ft home) is quite steep. Many will not use the TTC service at all, or at least not nearly enough to offset the extra tax costs.


but i think he made a good point

by increasing ridership, it will benefit you because driving to work will be easier for you, you will lose less time/gas/money sitting in traffic, your air quality will be better etc.

its time that we all start realizing the actual costs involved with traffic/cars/blabla..there is so much wasted money from the traffic aspect alone.

go fucking free ttc
 

Soundstream

TRIBE Member
Re: Re: Free TTC?

Originally posted by kat
but increasing ridership, it will benefit you because driving to work will be easier for you, you will lose less time/gas/money sitting in traffic, your air quality will be better etc.
Will it really? Isn't the TTC pretty much packed to capacity during rush hour right now anyways?

I think the increase in ridership due to free service will be minimal. For most people, it is not so much the cost that is the prohibiting factor of the TTC, but the inconvenience I think.

Cheers ... Ian :)
 

Syntax Error

Well-Known TRIBEr
i think it's a good idea(as long as service is increased). it would encourage a lot of people to come into the city and explore freely.

then again i'm also a dirty pinko who thinks that post-secondary education should be free as well.
 

kat

TRIBE Member
but if it was funded properly it could increase its service

ive found the subway to be awesome lately (except for the minor delay yesterday at lawrence)

i also think that releiving some of the financial pressures on the lower income people would have a nice impact on toronto society in general.
 
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sugar

TRIBE Member
FYI:
It took me 45 minutes to get to work today via TTC and York Region Transit. It took my coworker who lives a few blocks from me 2 hours to get here by car.

If that's not "inconvenient", I don't know what is. Yes, I have to walk 5 minutes to the subway station, and yes there may be someone clipping their toenails sitting next to me, but at least I'm guaranteed a relatively quick and safe ride to work each day.
 

PosTMOd

Well-Known TRIBEr
Re: Re: Re: Free TTC?

Originally posted by Soundstream
For most people, it is not so much the cost that is the prohibiting factor of the TTC, but the inconvenience I think.

That's true. It is convenient only if your trip is between points that are really close to the actual subway line, otherwise, it's a fucking mess.
 

Soundstream

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by kat
i also think that releiving some of the financial pressures on the lower income people would have a nice impact on toronto society in general.
But the lower income people will still have to pay the extra property taxes. So they won't benefit that much.

You may say they don't own homes, they rent, so they won't have to pay the extra taxes. However, their landlords will, and will therefore increase their rent accordingly.

Cheers ... Ian :)
 

vveerrgg

TRIBE Promoter
i'm so pissed that everytime something goes wrong in this city the idea is to jack and rob the property owners.

FUCK THAT NOISE!

I pay enough god damn tax to live in this fucking city...... if they changed an additional $1000 to my property taxes JUST FOR THE TTC, I'd be one of the first to start a tax revolt.

I don't even own a car and use the TTC exclusively.

On the principals of being a taxpayer. I am SOOO against this idea.
 

Soundstream

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by vveerrgg
I don't even own a car and use the TTC exclusively.
It sounds like you are one of the people who wouldn't be hurt by the tax, since the tax increase would be offset by you saving about the same amount on free fares (that is assuming you use it at least twice a day to get back and forth to work).

Cheers ... Ian :)
 
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vveerrgg

TRIBE Promoter
the day i receive a metropass in the mail every month for free, is the day i'll be willing to even consider it an option.

<EDIT>
But any extra property taxes in my mind are just a bandaide idea of shuttling the cities problems to the ppl. Toronto is a HUGE city with ppl from the outlying burrows coming and going every day. They don't pay taxes oto drive on my (as a city residents) roads or walk on my sidewalks. But they use them all the time...... I'd like to see the burrows pay more to toronto by proxy of their location. They NEED toronto to function as a city, they should contribute.

If I saw that happening, then I would consider helping more... .but I think there are enough tax dollars around toronto that should make its way back to the city as a core.
</EDIT>

in the winter i use the TTC atleast 2 times if not more....

but in the summer, i ride my bike, walk, get rides. I have options.

my problem is, some months, when I know I won't be using the TTC 100% I don't spend the $100 and just buy tickets and day passes. Its saves me a couple of bucks. Maybe I'm being selfish, but I like having the control of how I spend MY already heavily taxed money.

I'd still revolt. This thread shoots holes in the idea being anything but a bad idea.
 
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whatwaytoturn

TRIBE Member
I think in tandem with this, increase fines for cars who block bike lanes, and create an underground bike system that paralells the path system in the core for couriers and people who want bike around it without having to wear a smog mask. Have a small annual fee to pay for it's maintainance and issues you a card which gives you access to it, and closed shelters at the access points where you can lock up your bike without it getting stolen.
 

vveerrgg

TRIBE Promoter
included in my rant are the following items I think ppl outside toronto who travel into toronto regularly should pay......

a water/sewage tax
a garbage tax
a road tax

not just a TTC transit tax.

Go along any street of downtown the nite before garbage day. To say that ALL that stuff is consumed by ppl who ONLY LIVE IN TORONTO is insane.

Just in the club district, the water and sewage from all that beer!?!... :p
k now i'm getting silly and political.
 

AshG

Member
well i'm glad i'm not the only one who finds it absurd that riders who travel 2 blocks should pay the same as though who travel 10.
 
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kat

TRIBE Member
i think we really need to offer something to get more people to stop driving everywhere, live closer to their work, stop wasting their/everybody elses time/health/money.
if i lived out of town, but was offered a job in t.o - with free transit it would make sense for me to move/rent in the actual city. boo to driving from out of town everyday.
i know lots of people that drive to work, and pay lots for parking instead which equals roughly the cost of a metropass. with free ttc the incentive to ditch their car becomes bigger.
im so sick of walking next to a hundred cars lined up, with only one person per car. the only reason this happens is because we foster this kind of behaviour. everybody realizes the problem, everybody wants something to be done about, but nobody wants to help pay for it.
I think this free ttc idea could help a bit with that.
maybe youre right. property taxes might not be the best road - but the ttc needs help fast..we have to figure out something soon or this problem is just going to get worse.
the ttc needs the money to get their organization organized properly.

this is kind of related

taken from The Ecology of Commerce - by Paul Hawkens

Consider another situation ripe for green taxes: road congestion. In the San Francisco Bay Area, after decades of building freeways and bridges, the average speed of travel is 15 miles per hour during rush hour. In southern California, it is considerably less. Hardly a person who sits in a traffic jam has not considered the costs involved in fuel, time, and stress. The World Resources Institute estimates that Americans pay an extra $300 billion per year in expenses directly related to our over-reliance on the automobile. One study estimates that by 2005 Americans will waste almost 7 billion hours a year sitting in stopped traffic, at a cost of over $75 billion. Add to that the extra fuel use of 7.3 billion gallons and wear and tear on autos, and add another $40 billion is lost. Accidents increase in tied--up traffic, adding to the yearly bill some $275 billion in vehicular damage and medical costs. These figures do not take into account the effects of smog, acid rain or personal stress.

Rush-hour commuters on congested highways are participating in a market system that does not fully reflect these costs. In fact, it would be hard to design a less efficient "market" than the present urban interstate system, precisely because, again, the true costs of traffic patterns would change, revenues would increase, and congestion would be reduced.

granted sanfran & california have a much bigger car problem..still i think this is relevant to anybody who lives in a city with a smog problem.

i would post more of it, and hawken's "green tax" solutions - but i cant find it online..and im tired of typing out the book ;p
 
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Soundstream

TRIBE Member
The best solution (albeit most expensive to start up) would be to make the TTC subway more practical. If there was say a "ring" that went around the center of the city, that would make travel to many destinations a lot easier.

Right now, it is a great subway, as long as your destination is on Yonge St or Bloor St. Getting to any one of the corners of the city is very impractical as the current system stands now.

Agreed, there needs to be an incentive for people to ride the TTC, but it should be at the expense of just the people who own houses.

Cheers ... Ian :)
 

AshG

Member
^
no doubt.

for example, the system in sydney is just so damned efficient.
kind of a ring system, and the subway is actually the train as well, and can take you out to the mountains, straight from your front door, should you desire.

awesome subway/train they have there.
 
Originally posted by Zorro
When I lived in SanFran/Berkely the BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) you would pay a fare based on how far your destination was. if it was two stops it might only be 1.25 if it was 10 it might be as high as 4.00$. Now of course those are just examples as the fares I think coverd more of the distance travelled as instead of how many Actule stops it was. But it always seemed like a fair way to run it. Not to mention they were sparkling clean those trains they had.


i lived in oakland for a bit and i lived off the BART, but i dont think the BART/TTC comparison is accurate


the BART is more comparable to that of the GO Train service, where you pay for where you are traveling

the MUNI in San Francisco was more like our TTC and prices were comparable...

Basically, the TTC needs more provincial/federal funding, period. If it has to become free to get it, then I'm all for it... but the TTC could do equally well with paid fares, provided it were getting the funding it had been receiving ten years ago

remember the time when TTC was the best metro system in the world? it wasn't too long ago...it wasn't until mike harris and the harrisites cut funding that we watched the state of the TTC spin down the drain.

but i also think a shift and re-focus on urban priorities has the potential to help the cash-strapped TTC ... Miller was the guy that implemented builk packages of metropasses...and Toronto university students have the potential to help raise some money...

Adequate, REsponsible Funding + Creative Fare Strategies + Increased Commuter Awareness = The Better Way.

.steSTSETst.
 
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Dr Funk MD

TRIBE Promoter
I've been saying for years that the TTC should be free but everyone calls me a quack.

Some points that need arguing as well:

- For the people who complain that they don't use the TTC so they should have to pay taxes to fund it are also the same people who would argue that they don't have kids so they should have to pay property tax to fund schools. Everyone benefits from smart children just as everyone benefits from well running public transit.
- Using the model above people outside the city would pay into the system via their provincial taxes. They wouldn't pay the same amount, as someone who lives in Toronto but they, theoretically, also wouldn't be using it on a daily basis.
- Tourists from outside the province or country aren't taken into consideration, but I would guess that a free transport system would be something that is a plus (though not a deal breaker that would make them choose us over New York for example) for travelers.
- I'm a homeowner who uses the transit system as my primary source of transportation (I don't have a car) but if my taxes went up more then the cost of a metro pass for a year (roughly $1200) then I'd be super pissed off.
- The numbers they use in the model above are from a system that requires payment. If it were free I would guess that you'd see rider ship triple or more. Not from people who would take the bus to work everyday but from people who choose to walk or ride a bike instead paying full fare. There'd be an increase of people who would ride the bus or subway for one or two stops because it would no longer seem like a waste of $2.25.
- There is no tax on commercial or industrial property and because there are no feasible dollar figures that can attributed to money saved in air quality or road rage caused by traffic for example, so you can't really pitch these ideas to them in anyway that they'd agree to.
 
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