For Whom The Road Tolls
John Tory is in the news for wanting road tolls. He has challenged his critics to come up with a better plan. Challenge. Accepted.
1. Cancel the billion dollar, Scarborough subway stop. There's $3.2 BILLION taxpayer dollars saved. Not including the millions that it will cost us to keep paying for it yearly, since it's projected to lose money due to low ridership.
In it's place, listen to the experts and bring back REAL, cheaper, transit options. And divert some of those billions you were looking to waste to anti-poverty initiatives. It can even be transit related, like subsidizing tickets, tokens and passes for the working poor to help them get around the city.
It's appalling that in a city as rich as Toronto, where we have nearly 30% of our children living below the poverty line, that Tory's willing to screw the rest of us by pouring BILLIONS of dollars down the drain for a subway to nowhere (sorry Scarborough), while children starve in our city. In my opinion it shows not only a complete lack of leadership, but heart and concern for the most vulnerable in our society and complete lack of respect for the dollars earned by those of us who are better off.
2. Do what a real leader is supposed to do and do the tough thing. No, not harass poor people and children for their fares, but DEMAND the provincial and federal governments fund the TTC fairly. Per capita it is the most underfunded transit authority in the world.
That's disgusting considering just how important Toronto is to the province and the country's economy.
When I worked downtown, but lived in Scarborough, it took me 1.5 hours to get to work and another 1.5 back. When I lived in Hamilton, it took me 45 mins.
Moving Torontonians faster isn't just a matter of "convenience", its a matter of quality of life & economics. People who aren't spending 3 hours on subways and more time with their friends and family are happier. Happy people are more productive. It's not rocket science.
My belief is the province isn't being challenged out of political expediency and Tory's...Tory ideology. That of "small government", etc. A real leader takes people where they need to go, not where they want to go. With Tory's sky high approval rating, I'm sure the people of Toronto, where there are ALOT of votes would back him if he put the pressure on and made it an election issue. Tell the province in no uncertain terms, that whether Liberal or Conservative, the status quo of underfunding the TTC is unacceptable and THEY must manage their affairs better to find that money and get Toronto moving again.
3. Tolls. But scaled for income exemptions (alot of poor people live in the outer suburbs and need to drive, they may not be able to afford the almost $100 / month cost) with (property?) tax breaks so Torontonians who have to pay both an increased property tax and road tolls, don't feel ripped off. Life is a give and take. Torontonians have said they don't mind paying more. Making the financial case for the "muh tax dollars" crowd isn't that hard. You can either pay a bit more for a livable city, with less crime (the less people there are in poverty, the less crime, don't ya know), less pollution, better traffic and lower taxes. Because guess what? Those taxes are going to go up regardless.
4. Yes, raise property taxes. Do it on the homes worth a certain bit more, I'm sure the 66,000.00 one percenters won't mind. For those that do, they most likely also drive. Give them a tax break on their toll fees. Also remind them that the tolls will reduce traffic from those unable or unwilling to pay, so they'll be getting where they need to faster anyways. Those "revenue tools" will become more bearable.
5. Bike. Lanes. The majority of people that live downtown, don't drive. Significantly more would utilize options like bikes if it was convenient and non-threatening to their lives. For a fraction of what any of these other transit options would cost, we could get worldclass separated bike lanes around the city, helping people to move faster. Personally, I would be on my bike a lot more if I didn't have to worry about dying. By making cycling safer, it not only is a more economically friendly way of moving people around, it's environmentally friendlier and people's mental and physical health would improve. It would also ease congestion on the TTC as well as our roads.
The problem when dealing with people who are ideologues is their belief is the solution. Unfortunately reality doesn't always agree.
A leader must be tough and must always do what's right for the people they are leading. In my opinion John Tory is failing at both. He's a guy with an ideology and an agenda and the people be damned.