Darren J, an advocate of doing something constructive about congestion, wrote:
…I agree that a parking tax that small is useless… Do you think a much larger parking tax (more than 35 cents!) would have an impact on car use, and could be used as a first step before road tolls? This seems to be the direction
First of all
The last 25 years of transit history of this city is abysmal and the new six-billion-dollar-15-year plan (let’s say it will be built just for this paragraph) will not keep up with the projected population over those 15 years anyway. Giambrone’s proposal (and god bless him because he will likely be our mayor in 12 years) is far overdue. This is only catchup. Biology, migration and economics will overwhelm Mr Giambrone’s plan as it would defeat any other large-city leadership without a full-blown transit strategy.
Sorry… back to Darren’s excellent question.
Would a larger parking tax impact car use?
Yes, there is a level of taxation that would have a meaningful impact on car use. A high flat tax would naturally have an effect, as does
This is really simple. Think about the early-bird signs on the private parking lots? “In by 9am pay $10.00 else $20.00”. This is done because the private operator wants to be sure to sell his inventory. But what if Toronto Parking Authority (GreenP) charged “landing” and “departure” fees? $10.00 to park, plus $5.00 if you arrive between 8:00am and 9:30am; plus $5 if you depart between 4:00pm and 6:00pm. And what if the city imposed such a surcharge on all private operators, including employers who provide free parking. And what if it covered surface lots, garages and street parking? Yes this is a more complex scheme. But I guarantee you that it would raise more than 7.2M, would spread rush hour peak, would push a portion of motorists people onto transit or bike (this plan would require more busses and better bike paths immediately). And it is possible to deploy.
What is missing besides political will is that many parking operators would have to scramble to upgrade their payment systems to handle the necessary audits, so the city would have to allow those operators to keep some of the additional revenue to pay for the upgrades.
Could Miller’s flat per stall tax be used as a first step toward toll roads…
No, not the way it is proposed. Why? It is unrelated to congestion; it is a regressive, aimless tax, which merely exhausts the motorist and reduces her tolerance for the next tax to be levied. Tax payers are not completely stupid. Smokers complain there are taxes on cigarettes, but they understand why they are so high. Motorists do not like to pay all their lunch money per half hour to park underground in the central business district, but they understand the real-estate is valuable. But many motorists who feel little choice but to take a vehicle downtown don’t want to pay a surtax that is unrelated to the service received. I don’t.
But, if I had to pay a surcharge to arrive during rush hour (and I would not like it), I would understand it. Best of all I might be able to avoid it. That is what a tax should do; it should elicit a desired avoidance behavior. It should make a proportion of the population stop smoking or come to work earlier, or wait until 10am to drive downtown to shop, or take transit twice a week.
In fact, if we were to charge a landing and departure fee for parking, and could make it apply everywhere, in appropriate gradations ($5 downtown; $2 in Etobicoke), then we would not need road user charging, would we?
When you consider parking and road-use within the same brain you will find whole new solutions.