Toronto Councillor Brian Ashton has recently returned from a fact finding mission to London, England, where he spent three days looking at their congestion tax scheme with a view to introducing the same thing here in Toronto.
Early indications are that he was not too impressed: "There will be headlights shining out my butt before we ever see congestion charges in Toronto," he told the Toronto Star upon his return.
Ashton's main concern appears to have been the differing levels of congestion between the two cities.
"In London they had so much congestion that buses and taxis and even emergency vehicles in the center of the city couldn't move," he explained.
Fair point. Whatever the complaints of Toronto commuters we can hardly claim the same level of traffic snarl ups over here. I have experienced the gridlock of London first-hand â€“ I lived there for two years in the early 1990s â€“ and Toronto's too, and I have to concur with Councillor Ashton's opinion.
That's not to say I don't find his attitude disappointing. Is this man really saying we have to wait until our ambulances are bogged down in traffic before we get some kind of congestion tax here? Has he never heard of forward thinking, or planning ahead...?
London is revered today as a model for the world to follow when it comes to traffic management but in reality - having spent probably the better part of two weeks out of my two years there stood still in traffic - I can assure you that London waited far too long to deal with their traffic problems, and even now they have a ways to go.
The London Underground continues to be a transit user's nightmare with its impossibly complicated fare zone pricing and a congestion and safety record the envy of no-one.
I doubt we will see headlights shining out of Councillor Ashton's butt anytime soon. His head is stuck too far up there already.
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