Special Report: Transit

Expensive Transit Subsidizing Cheap Parking

The City sets both parking rates and the transit rates, as well as taxpayer funding levels for roads and transit. Money spent on roads, or subsidizing artificially cheap parking, is money that cannot be spent on transit.

By Nicholas Kevlahan
Published February 25, 2016

Today's Hamilton Spectator editorial on parking rates is very disappointing.

Overhead view of parking in downtown Hamilton (Image Credit: Google Maps)
Overhead view of parking in downtown Hamilton (Image Credit: Google Maps)

The editorial starts by making the straightforward observation that since Hamilton has the lowest downtown parking rates of any city in Ontario (and maybe Canada) there is room to raise them. But it then claims that it is "unrealistic" to think that increasing parking rates would lead more people to choose the HSR, because it "just isn't a convenient or suitable option for many".

It adds that we shouldn't expect people to take HSR downtown "until public transit does become a credible alternative".

This is a dubious argument for both economic and social reasons.

Straightforward Economics

First, the economic argument that increasing parking rates would encourage more people to take transit is straightforward and convincing. As long as a monthly parking pass is cheaper than a monthly bus pass, it just doesn't make economic sense for someone who could take HSR not to drive.

Why should people pay more to take the bus and leave their car at home? At the very least, monthly parking needs to be significantly more expensive than a monthly transit pass - say, $120 for a parking pass compared with $95 for a transit pass - so transit users don't lose money taking the bus. Instead, monthly parking passes are as low as $80, so driving actually saves commuters money.

Likewise, at $2.75 a bus trip, a return trip for three hours of shopping costs a single person $5.50. Parking for three hours on the street costs only $3.

If more than one person is travelling, transit is prohibitively expensive. A family of four could easily spend $13 more taking the bus than driving!

HSR buses at James and Hunter (RTH file photo)
HSR buses at James and Hunter (RTH file photo)

Another point is that extremely low parking meter rates mean that we can't have convenient options like paying by credit card or topping up the meter by cell phone like other cities. They just don't generate enough revenue to make parking convenient.

Maybe making paying for parking convenient would attract more people to shop downtown than ultra-low rates. It is much worse to be hit with a ticket than to pay a few extra dollars for a night out.

Substandard Transit

But the most insidious thing about this editorial is that it tacitly accepts that 20 million transit rides are taken annually on a system so bad that no one with an alternative would voluntarily choose it.

That's a lot of people using a system so terrible that it would apparently be unfair to impose it on the rest of us! Shouldn't the article be arguing forcefully for big transit funding increases to bring our substandard system up to snuff?

So far, the only big improvement, LRT, is being funded 100 percent by the Province.

Furthermore, low parking costs and high driving rates obviously do have a direct impact on the quality of our transit system. The City sets both parking rates and the transit rates, as well as taxpayer funding levels for roads and transit.

Money spent on roads, or subsidizing artificially cheap parking, is money that cannot be spent on transit.

Transit Riders Subsidizing Drivers

Refusing to put more tax dollars into the transit system - while increasing user fees - and keeping municipal parking rates below market value effectively means transit users riding an inferior system are subsidizing drivers.

Another example of transit users subsidizing drivers is that Hamilton, unlike every other similarly-sized city, spends almost all its gas tax money on roads instead of on transit.

The fact that transit users are often poorer than drivers, and that the highest transit taxes rates are paid by the poorest residents, just amplifies the unfairness.

Add to this the fact that Hamilton's policy of area rating for transit - again, unique among similarly-sized cities - further concentrates the inequality in transit funding vs. roads funding. It also makes it politically difficult to improve transit in the suburbs since the full cost is borne by the local residents.

How is HSR ever going to become a "credible alternative" throughout the city under these conditions?

Dismal Transit Growth

Keeping parking rates lower than bus fares creates an economic disincentive for residents to ride the bus. When fewer people ride the bus, there is less revenue and less political support for improvements to the service.

Council's solution - to try to fund future service improvements entirely out of fare increases - is doomed to failure for simple economics. The HSR may actually have lost passengers in the past year, after the City dramatically raised transit fares in the name of improving service.

It's not surprising that HSR has by far the worst growth in ridership, as Hamilton CATCH recently noted: a dismal five percent over the eight years from 2006 to 2014, compared to the next worst, St. Catharines, at 22 percent and the best, Brampton, at 101 percent.

It's important to understand that when HSR ridership drops as a result of fare increases, this demonstrates that at least some people who are taking transit do have alternatives.

And there are clearly lots of people who could easily take transit but choose to drive. Of my neighbours who work at McMaster, about two-thirds take transit or bike and one-third drive.

If the Spectator wants to keep driving cheap and convenient until we have a first-class transit system, we'll be waiting a very long time. In the meantime, there are tens of thousands of Hamiltonians who use HSR every day, despite the fact that it would apparently be unfair to expect anyone with an alternative to use it.

Nicholas Kevlahan was born and raised in Vancouver, and then spent eight years in England and France before returning to Canada in 1998. He has been a Hamiltonian since then, and is a strong believer in the potential of this city. Although he spends most of his time as a mathematician, he is also a passionate amateur urbanist and a fan of good design. You can often spot him strolling the streets of the downtown, shopping at the Market. Nicholas is the spokesperson for Hamilton Light Rail.


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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 25, 2016 at 11:17:30

To me, the simplest goal would be if the City set a policy with an upper-limit on the savings ratio for parking when buying daily vs hourly and monthly vs daily. I've gone over this before, but people buying monthly hurts their ability to make occasional use of transit and cycling, and monthly discounts encourage people to buy monthly.

If the city set a policy where the ratio of daily:monthly for municipal lots had to be 1:15 or higher, then commuters would be encouraged to just use the daily rate. Likewise, hourly:daily could have a 1:4 constraint, which would help encourage short-stays at city lots for customers, not commuters.

Currently, you have lots that are $6 to park for a day, $60 to park for a month, and $2 to park for an hour. That means somebody who parks their half the month and then buses or bikes half the month is paying as much as somebody who parks there every day, and a customer who parks for 3 hours while running errands pays the same as a commuter who uses the spot for the whole day.

Even embracing free-market ideals and avoiding forcing private lots to adhere to more responsible ratios, the city could show leadership and rebalance their ratios to encourage mixed commuting and the economic activity of customers.

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By Wonder (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2016 at 12:34:41

While I wholeheartedly agree with Nicholas' assessment here, I wonder if the City raising downtown parking rates could have the perverse side-effect of slowing development by allowing private lot owners to charge more too? After all, we've already seen buildings get torn down to become parking lots in the last few years. Anything that might spur that trend could be dangerous (as everything from aesthetics to tax revenue could be impacted).
What I believe is needed, although I'm not sure if it would be legal to implement, is a simple flat tax on all parking spots, public, private, urban and suburban, whose revenues could be used for transit improvements and other measures to spur change.

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By Wonder (anonymous) | Posted February 25, 2016 at 13:49:27

If that's the case, raising the rates should be a no-brainer. Thanks for the info.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted February 25, 2016 at 14:04:37

Speaking of parking lots, I've noticed that these parking lots (in purple) are ripe for development within 10 years:


  • Purple -- the parking lots ripe for development
  • Yellow -- a proposed 21-storey student residence
  • City Centre -- A place ripe for revitalization opportunity with nearby increased residential densities
  • 26 Storey -- The nearest tall building to the new height-puncturing development.
  • A-Line LRT is reported to possibly not go on James -- might go past these parking lots

The student residence looks a bit of a standout. Some concern there by some people initially. But looking closely -- there is ground floor retail. The facades will be kept. It's it's south of Wilson (away from the good part of James), and across from City Centre (which could use nearby residential density to permit revitalization).

This L shape also happens to be correctly located for a good potential migration path towards dense developments (with appropriately-priced underground parking, preferably) replacing the large parking lots. It sounds like a well-placed location for student residences after all, when I rough-napkin-sketch things out like this. Hopefully a good medium to medium-high density commercial/office/residential mix.

It's not far from the A-Line and B-Line LRT routes (and we also see A-Line LRT being potentially relocated closer to the parking lots. Which some of us don't like (some of us even prefer James LRT with mixed traffic north of Wilson -- the only part where mixed traffic is acceptable in order to save James heritage while keeping future A-Line mountain-to-downtown travellers express when it's eventually extended to the south). On the other hand an A-Line LRT passing by the parking lots, dramatically increases likelihood of a major redevelopment along this corridor.

I wonder what the city has in mind... (A-Line relocation 1 block eastwards + mega-redevelopment of purple parking lots). From a business perspective it kinda makes sense. (I can imagine some would say: do we trust the city to do this all properly?).

But other than that, it seems a sensible long-term path to densification while avoiding destroying James heritage (It could be done properly, but there's so many ways to bungle ramming an LRT through James Street North). Personally, I prefer either LRT-only or mixed traffic north of downtown (cars+LRT north of Wilson), that way, we can keep all the light standards and artwork along James, (and just simply stop running the LRT north of King during Supercrawl).

They're talking about not sending the LRT down James. What if the city/Metrolinx relocates A-Line north of King slightly west to a Hughson transit-only LRT corridor that neatly turns westwards on Hunter right in front of the GO station! It'd just go on James St South, south of Hunter. This will dramatically increase the value of the parking lots. This would allow them to be redeveloped all those parking lots as mixed-income transit-friendly developments. There would be a situation of figuring out how to bring the LRT to the GO station from Hughson, but assuming that was solved.

I'm not sure if I even agree with myself (James vs non-James LRT)... But it's important to be my own Devil's Advocate -- and understand the scenarios that's going to make the parking lots privatized (as new underground garages to major new developments).

EDIT: For those who can't believe it can happen by 2025 -- look at what happened in just 8 years in Toronto. I'm mixed on the loss of foilage, but in our specific case, we don't even have any foilage in the parking lots, so almost anything is a net gain.

2007-2015 (Google Street View archaeology -- Regent Park revitalization -- same view -- just look at the identical streetlamp pole at left edge of both!)

If Toronto can pull this off in just a few years -- we can have transit oriented developments in those old parking lots by 2025 along the Hughson corridor for a Hughson LRT -- burying those massive parking lots pictured earlier above -- more taxpayer revenue.

This was the ugly Regent Park lowrises, widely derided by other people as the "slums" of Toronto. Most of it has now been replaced by mixed income condos with additional low-income housing units resuming existing rents many of the people there had. If all of this can happen in 8 years -- creation of more mixed income developments in Hamilton -- and the increase in low-income housing here. Now I see business suits mingling with immigrants in the new Regent Park and I must say I'm fairly impressed at how it turned out, despite some initial issues (e.g. temporary relocation of low income residents). But in our case, we have no low-income-resident-relocation issue, because it's a mixed-income development from scratch!

Not saying I exactly like the idea of a Hughson LRT instead of the James LRT (e.g. mixed traffic north of Wilson to keep heritage). But one gotta think why a Hughson LRT might work. I don't mind mixed traffic north of Wilson for James LRT because it won't slow down Mountain residents for a future express A-Line to Hamilton downtown -- it's only mixed traffic towards waterfront. The B-Line would be express right-of-way in my opinion (though admittedly, not everyone agrees) but I see no harm in letting the James LRT go mixed-traffic north of Wilson to keep James heritage.

But if that's not the route -- and Hughson LRT happens, what about spinning those parking lots into a large mixed-income development megaproject?

We have a severe local shortage of low-income housing. Long waiting list. Why not hit three or four birds with one stone? That'd be a condition for a lot of people tolerating a Hughson LRT (north of Hunter) instead of a James LRT. Developers can still get profit (so they can still buy these lots from the City at a price worth to the city) -- while we get more low-income housing, parking lots become more valuable as mixed income developments, and city earns more taxpayer revenue from all new mixed-income developments along Hughson/John in those depressed areas.

Am I crazy for imagining this...

...or is redevelopment of these parking lots the reason why a Hughson LRT might make sense?

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-02-25 14:49:36

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted February 25, 2016 at 18:33:52 in reply to Comment 116630

This is a great comment. And I'm with you on the potential of all those lots. I've long said that those parking lots represent our chance to add another entirely new 'downtown' into the middle of downtown. Like Toronto has done.

I can't see LRT running on Hughson because it would remove 2 lanes from general traffic, which is fine from Hunter to Cannon where there's nothing but empty parking lots, but north of Cannon it's residential with street parking. Not sure it would fit.

I like the idea of leaving James for parades, open streets, suprercrawl etc..... LRT on Hughson could veer back to James at LIUNA and head north from there. Or perhaps it runs on Bay?

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted February 25, 2016 at 21:00:48 in reply to Comment 116632

That said, if it runs on Hughson, I feel it would become necessary for Hughson to be an LRT-only corridor. There is not much car traffic on Hughson as it seems to usually be used as an access road. Parking access would have to be via side streets and John Street.

If all of these parking lots are redeveloped, we really don't need Hughson to be used for cars, right? All of those big parking lots abut into John street anyway, doesn't it?

  • James: Fully preserved with its heritage. Cars allowed. Closeable during Supercrawl.
  • Hughson: Theoretically becomes LRT-only corridor. Cars not allowed.
  • John: 2-way street accessing all big parking lots becoming new developments. Cars allowed.

With a Hughson LRT, there'd be an A-Line LRT station right in front of the Hunter GO station (between Hughson and James), making it even more convenient for GO train/bus users.

There are fewer businesses to disrupt on Hughson, which would be a big relief for a lot of James St N businesses. Personally I prefer the LRT to run as mixed-traffic on James St N, but I now understand why a Hughson LRT might work because of all the above.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted February 25, 2016 at 23:23:00 in reply to Comment 116639

Yea, I've been open to the idea of mixed-running downtown but would prefer to avoid it if at all possible. My B-Line idea is for the eastbound LRT to run in it's own lane on King from Mary to Wellington. This leave 1 westbound car lane, and curb parking on the north curb. The westbound LRT runs on Wellington to King William to Mary or Catharine and back to King, also in it's own lane. No mixed running at all. A station in front of First Place on King, and perhaps Ferguson or Mary? East of Wellington and west of Catharine it's back in it's usual running in it's own lanes.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted February 25, 2016 at 18:35:40

as for this article, Nicholas is bang on.

This is Hamilton's self fulfilling city council logic:

  • Transit sucks too much to expect anyone to use it as an alternative to their car.
  • No, we won't invest in transit.
  • Transit sucks too much to expect anyone to use it as an alternative to their car because we didn't fund it.
  • No, we won't invest in transit.

and on and on it goes, for the last 30 years and counting......

Comment edited by JasonL on 2016-02-25 18:36:20

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By StephenBarath (registered) | Posted February 26, 2016 at 10:46:24 in reply to Comment 116633

Yes, exactly. Council has the idea that the HSR is purely a social service, and that no “choice” riders are served by it. This defies logic- out of over 20 million rides, not every single one can be taken by someone who can’t drive because he’s poor or disabled (or whatever the stereotype of an HSR rider is). If they’d take the bus from time to time (there’s frequent service to City Hall), it wouldn’t be hard to see the variety of people the system serves. But they refuse to see it.

The fare hikes last year without accompanying service improvements were insult added to the injuries that HSR riders experience in poor frequency outside of peak hours, and pass-bys and crushloads during them. Council’s belief- that HSR serves only “captive” riders who almost by definition can be treated poorly since they have no choice but to take the bus- is self-fulling. The cycle you identify is vicious. HSR lost riders last year because a few of the people for whom HSR supplements other means of transportation got fed up and left. And a few more will next year, too.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted February 25, 2016 at 20:51:23 in reply to Comment 116633

That's why the LRT must proceed (as well as all-day 2-way GO which I strongly advocate for as well) to break this mentality. It will provide a major change to transit sentiments locally. The LRT project is also clearly one big economic development project to Hamilton, but it needs to also double as a transit catalyst. We must use every opportunity to move HSR forward, preferably before the LRT is built.

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By Fred Street (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2016 at 14:18:10 in reply to Comment 116636

I confess to being a little unnerved by LRT *doubling* as a transit catalyst. When the project was announced I had hoped that this would be its principal end.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted February 29, 2016 at 12:56:21 in reply to Comment 116662

As many already know, Ontario awarded LRT to Hamilton partially as an economic development (ecdev) initiative too.

It MUST serve a good transit purpose, that said given Lower City Hamilton, it is pretty clear that it is also ecdev too. (Whether one says "ecdev doubling as transit" or "transit doubling as ecdev" is probably a matter of semantics and priorities depending on who you ask in the City).

The risk is that several in the city (again, some, not all) views it primarily as ecdev, but we must advocate that it must also be transit too, and that HSR bus must expand to fit the LRT. (Some in the city are grudgingly for the LRT mainly because it's a big ecdev project, others in the City are thrilled at the transit seismic changes it will help bring to Hamilton)

Side topic: There is going to be a HSR-LRT revenue shift due to LRT replacing one of HSR's most profitable (er, least-money-losing) bus routes, it will be critical that HSR-LRT work together to rather than trying to "compete for revenues" but to work together in a nicely meshed transit network. The LRT replaces one of HSR's most profitable bus routes which can affect transit politics. Buses redirected to other routes can be LRT feeders that could still have similar fare box recovery, if done properly, and the revenue loss is much ado about nothing. But it could be screwed up, and HSR average fare box recovery goes down (that would be bad). Andrae Griffith's earlier article is quite spot on in the need to leverage HSR to fit LRT. As residents of Hamilton we need to demand the best possible outcome for transit improvements, GO/HSR/LRT.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-02-29 13:06:49

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted February 25, 2016 at 23:17:36 in reply to Comment 116636

when you say 'we' I assume you're talking about city council? The rest of us get it. Sadly, of the 15 who vote on the budget every year, only about 3 of them value transportation options beyond single occupancy cars. $85 mil for another lane on the Linc? Let's hurry up and do it with no study if we can. Invest in transit? Maybe next century...or the one after that.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted February 26, 2016 at 10:16:07 in reply to Comment 116641

All of us, you, me, city, etc.

Specifcally, annotated version:

We [all of us] must use every opportunity [outreach, events, Metrolinx doing their job, us public attending community meetings, city councillors doing their jobs, writing articles to papers and blogs, attending open-mike events at City Hall, city workers doing their jobs, elected mayor doing job, volunteering in campaigns of best transit-friendly candidates, etc] to move HSR forward, preferably before the LRT is built.

(Not nearly annotated enough, but you get the idea.)

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-02-26 10:18:48

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By DBC (registered) | Posted February 26, 2016 at 08:43:51

Meanwhile in a land far far away......http://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/6354273-feb-25-one-school-system-misbehaving-mpps-more-parking-and-other-letters-to-the-editor/

Sadly someone from Carlisle had to pay $20 when they went to Copps once so therefore we need to tear down more buildings to make way for more affordable parking in the core.

You can't make this stuff up and sadly this letter writer likely forms part of the vocal minority that telephone their Councillor to stand in the way of any urban improvement in this town.

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By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted February 26, 2016 at 10:23:04 in reply to Comment 116644

Over a thousand (1,088) people waiting for city parking and the best they can come up with is to raise the hourly rate? How typically Hamilton. Gouge the helpless motorist.

Perhaps it has not occurred to some that buses don't always go where people want to go? Does it not occur to anyone that more parking is needed? That would lead to more revenue which will be ultimately wasted for the most part.

Cars are not going away folks. Make room for them. The people in them pay huge taxes and cannot or do not want to take a bus. They are an important part of the workforce. Help them. More buses for people that need them, and forget about LRT.

My recent (and last) visit to Copps whatever cost $20 to park for a couple hours. Asinine. Tear down abandoned buildings and make parking lots. Obviously they are needed.

They need to try Toronto parking sometime.

During the beginnings of a Blue Jays game on a very busy shopping day, right at the beginning of peak period. Or The annual Ex at the Exhibition Place. (Surprisingly: You can find free parking about 1 to 1.5 kilometers away, in areas nearer King/Queen, and walk instead. Better yet, catch public transit)

Parking is easy-peasy in Hamilton for a Toronto veteran. The TiCats games don't even faze me. Go two or three blocks away, try the almost-always-never-full Hughson/John parking lots pictured here -- even a game at FirstOntario rarely fills all of those parking spots up. Heck, if you hate walking four or five blocks, the $5 SoBi membership is also cheaper than the parking fees at Copps.

Why demolish buildings because people don't want to walk two blocks further? Their lives will live longer anyway.

And, when those parking lots are redeveloped, they can be buried (underground parking underneath developments). Heck, if it was a condition of redeveloping those lots, I'd be OK with a single large modern garage that consolidates the lots and frees up development space.

Hamilton has already indeed demolished a massive amount of abandoned buildings, for parking lots. Use them!!!!
They may be a bit of a longer walk, but parking a little bit further away is still a shorter walk than an indoor mall walk from end of Jackson Square to the end of City Centre.

Even as a car owner MYSELF, enough is enough with all these wastelands.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-02-26 10:37:03

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By Why (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2016 at 11:51:45

Why do people talk about "council" being so anti-transit, etc. Doing so removes personal responsibility from the individuals who make these bad decisions. We should use names of individuals who are sabotaging progress, and hold them accountable. Theory of power is that those in power who are corrupt operate in their corrupt ways because they are not held responsible/ accountable. Where is the accountability? What can we do to establish this? These are the questions we need to start asking instead of lamenting and blaming this nebulous "council" entity as though it was some mindless machine. Same idea with corporations which try to remove personal liability from bad behaviour. Why do we let individuals get away with murdering our city and it's potential.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted February 26, 2016 at 13:22:03 in reply to Comment 116649

I'm not sure 'outing' them would change anything. They happily out themselves at council meetings, and on twitter all the time. I've never once heard Terry Whitehead, or Lloyd Ferguson (in his defence, he is on board for LRT) or Doug Conley speak glowingly about HSR and our need for a great bus system. Heck, Terry said he wouldn't participate in the 'throw them on the bus' campaign because it's too inconvenient to use.

They are happily and openly anti-transit. Perhaps finding out which well-known business owners and 'community leaders' fund their campaigns, and outing them might be a better strategy?? I remember how quickly the owners of LaLuna removed their 'no bus lane' once faced with threat of boycott from all their transit-using customers.

Comment edited by JasonL on 2016-02-26 13:22:33

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By DowntownInHamilton (registered) | Posted February 27, 2016 at 08:31:34 in reply to Comment 116651

Comments with a score below -5 are hidden by default.

You can change or disable this comment score threshold by registering an RTH user account.

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By DownerInHamilton (anonymous) | Posted February 28, 2016 at 14:42:43 in reply to Comment 116658

"You must be a really angry person to spout this stuff, ad nasueum" Physician, heal thyself.

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By JasonL (registered) | Posted February 27, 2016 at 08:55:25 in reply to Comment 116658

my bad....we're a world leader in spending on transit http://www.raisethehammer.org/blog/2680/...

your link is broken, but if in fact we're only spending $20 million on transit in 2016, that's lower than our level in 2000 https://www.raisethehammer.org/article/9...

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By Suburbanite (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2016 at 17:10:49 in reply to Comment 116651

Over $2,000 in campaign contributions:

ATU Local 107 ($2,700 total to Jason Farr, Tom Jackson, Brad Clark, Fred Eisenberger, Brian McHattie, Sam Merulla, and Matthew Green),
Benemar Construction ,
Carpenters Political Action Committee,
Carstar Automotive,
Chiaravelle Developments,
Cindal Wholesale - Vartanian Rugs,
DCR Holdings,
Aldo DeSantis,
Anthony DeSantis,
David DeSantis,
DiCenzo Construction Company,
Hamilton-Brantford Ontario Buildings Trade Council,
Hamilton Cab,
Hamilton Professional Firefighters Association,
David Horwood,
LIUNA Local 837,
Sergio Manchia of Urban Core Developments - Ancaster Self-Storage - Dundas Self-Storage,
Royal LePage State Realty,
Sonoma Homes,
Spallaci Construction,
Spallaci & Sons Limited,
T. Valeri Construction
United Association of Journeyman Local 67,
Valvasori Brothers - Mike and David,
Vrancor Hospitality Group,
Janet Weisz,
Sasha Weisz,
Thomas Weisz,

Comment edited by Suburbanite on 2016-02-26 17:17:05

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By Jackman (anonymous) | Posted February 27, 2016 at 22:29:07 in reply to Comment 116656

Thank you for this info., but do we know exactly how much? Over $2,000 is a little too vague. Also, do we know what promises were made in exchange for whatever money was given? Is this public information? It damn well should be.

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By Shirly (anonymous) | Posted February 26, 2016 at 13:31:26 in reply to Comment 116651

I think that's a great strategy. Whatever happen to that lobbyist registry? I'm sure many of us would happily boycott such businesses, unless of course they are linked to Israel in which case the government would crack down on us instead :(

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted February 29, 2016 at 14:05:47

sub•si•dy (sŭbˈsĭ-dē)►

n.   Monetary assistance granted by a government to a person or group in support of an enterprise regarded as being in the public interest.

n.   Financial assistance given by one person or government to another.

Consider the following:

People who want to shop can park for free at any number of local malls etc so downtown merchants will suffer;

People who work can pay for monthly passes at nongovernmental parking facilities and pay less; and

Market forces usually dictate.

The fact that on street and municipal parking is cheap does not mean that transit riders are subsidizing parking. The two are not directly co-related. (Although I guess you could argue that people who own driveways and pay taxes on their property are subsidizing parking if the municipal rate is below the market rate.)

Free street parking on the other hand is a subsidy. There should be a fee across the city to park your car on the street or on any City property.

Setting municipal rates artificially high (as in beyond market rates) is a tax.

By raising rates you will not reduce driving. You will simply take money out of drivers pockets. Look at any number of examples of this around us. HOV lanes are a good example. They have done essentially nothing to increase ride sharing as studies have shown that the vast majority of users are families.

People generally (meaning the majority of people) don't like public transit. It is inconvenient and, well, not private. People like - no love - privacy. That is why private transportation has been so successful.

If the city can raise rates and increase revenue from parking I am all for that. But if raising rates actually decreases revenue then we are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Comment edited by CharlesBall on 2016-02-29 14:13:40

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 29, 2016 at 15:07:00 in reply to Comment 116670

When municipal lots are priced 50% cheaper than similar private lots, that is a direct subsidy to drivers by the municipal government. It is also interfering in the private parking market by introducing an artificially low government competitor.

It is also a subsidy with respect to transit users in the sense that the municipal government (which controls both prices) has priced parking much cheaper than taking transit, thereby favouring driving over transit as a way of travelling to downtown.

t is similar to situations where one similar good is taxed lower or higher than another (e.g. countries like the UK where diesel for farmer equipment is taxed at a lower level or where ).

The naive definitions of subsidy you quote don't include many cases that economists define as subsidies. We are talking about economics, not the everyday colloquial use of the term. See http://raisethehammer.org/comment/116541 for a more complete definition of subsidies.

Increasing the cost of driving certainly will reduce the amount driven: driving is not immune to the basic principles of supply and demand.

Comment edited by kevlahan on 2016-02-29 15:07:37

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By jim (anonymous) | Posted February 29, 2016 at 14:42:20 in reply to Comment 116670

the concept of a fee to park on any municipal roadway or lot is practical and clever, could generate some real revenue. In my neighborhood there is ample driveway parking for most, yet some park 2nd and 3rd vehicles on roadways for convenience. An annual fee to park anywhere-with some sort of plate sticker- instead of meters would be ideal.

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By CharlesBall (registered) | Posted February 29, 2016 at 15:29:43 in reply to Comment 116671

Some streets already have this. You put up 3 hour parking signs then charge local residents an annual fee to exceed the limit on the sign.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 29, 2016 at 17:23:02 in reply to Comment 116674

Every street anywhere near a hospital, for example.

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By kevlahan (registered) | Posted February 29, 2016 at 15:28:43 in reply to Comment 116671

That's a good point: I've always been confused at the belief that the city should store your car for your for free on a public roadway. Why couldn't I just leave a trailer on the road full of my stuff in a parking space beside my house instead of paying for self-storage? Why is storing your vehicle any different?

Paying for vehicle storage on public streets might even cut down on the number of vehicles families own.

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By Stephen (anonymous) | Posted February 29, 2016 at 19:06:51 in reply to Comment 116673

I'm torn on this, because street parking has a lot of benefits (for instance, traffic calming). When there are charges, there's pressure on home owners to create parking pads (legally or otherwise) or widen driveways (again), which increases private parking spaces used only occasionally and decreases public ones which can be used all the time. Not to mention fewer street trees and green spaces.

In effect, though, in a lot of neighbourhoods the public is paying the cost to maintain an on-street storage spot for cars so that residents can use their garages to store other things...still, it's complicated, and on-street parking can be a positive thing.

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