Comment 5734

By rusty (registered) - website | Posted March 05, 2007 at 15:14:25

Hi Jerry,

These are 2 different models altogether. The purpose of the congestion tax is to try and encourage more transit ridership to and from the downtown. The 401 doesn’t go downtown, and I’m not aware of any proposal to tax this traffic. You raise a good point though. It may be prudent to toll the 401 traffic as well; however, as you say, that would be for a different transit model altogether.

Either way, the purpose of any toll would be to off-set the cost of road maintenance (which should be borne more heavily by the highest users) and to invest some of the profit into transit alternatives, (where they exist).

I don’t buy into the argument about the expansion of out-of-town business parks. The downtown is unique. It has unique advantages for business (central location, proximity to broader amenities, ease of doing business) and thus it is always going to cost more to locate there. While the downtown does indeed need to stay competitive with other business locations, I don’t believe a modest congestion tax will dramatically affect any decision to locate there. Employees can take transit, Executives/Sales staff can off-set some expenses through their expense reports/tax deductions, other businesses may pass on the costs through price increases - all in all I think this is a cost of doing business which most people can handle (I don’t know this for a fact of course, some evidence would be nice…).

It is precisely because of the downtown’s uniqueness that it needs this congestion tax. Because of the central location the downtown attracts more traffic. The downtown neighbourhoods therefore, need to be protected from the effects of gridlock. The congestion tax is needed to:

  • promote transit ridership and encourage more transit investment
  • clean the air for downtown residents
  • Make downtown streets safer
  • Help cover the cost of downtown street maintenance

If you are not certain as to whether these measures are needed, and whether the transit balance in downtown TO is out of whack, try living or commuting here. It’s dangerous, smelly, and bad for your health. It needs fixing. If we don’t get this tax how is the transportation balance going to be achieved? Behaviour is shaped by rewards and consequences. I am convinced that the downtown congestion tax is the right kind of consequence that will off-set the wonky balance that we currently have.

Thanks for your comments


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