2010/03/30

Toronto Takes the Gold for Congestion

In the ever-exciting congestion Olympics, Toronto takes the gold! Raise a toast! Congestion is a measure of prosperity and success. We win!

According to a Toronto Star article reporting a Board of Trade report, our average commutes are now longer that those in a field of 19 majors (see table). But these are not really the biggest and nastiest. The BOT skipped many tens of worse-off cities in Asia. Heck, Moscow, still worse, is not on the list. And look where Montreal is already. We may not even make the podium at next year’s BOT Congestion Olympics.
The truth is this is caused by a lot of things besides prosperity. Lousy Transit, Sprawl, Cheap Gas, Property Values, Gas Tax Unchanged for 20 years, Ontario’s Protectionism of the Auto Industry. A lot of things. It is broadly systemic. It cannot be fixed by a Mayor, no matter how courageous she may be.

Christopher Hume gets it big time: “It should come as no surprise that a (provincial) government that would spend billions bailing out the auto industry would also cut billions from public transit. If it's true that action speaks louder than words, there can be no doubt about where the province's intentions lie – and it's not on the subways, or LRTs, or buses.”

And Dennis DesRosiers was vilified for making this very clear last November: “…if governments collectively want to protect the 900,000 to one million jobs in the automotive industry, they also have to accept that we need more vehicles, not less ... I'm against road pricing… We need consumers to drive more, not less.”

Hume and DesRosiers get it. 100%.

If you add to Hume’s and DesRosiers’ insights that the Ontario Ministry of Electric Outlets has promoted the FIT program as a way to get near-free energy for your car, what else needs to be said?

Good-bye Transit. Hello Cars. Good-Bye Fuel Tax. Hello lots of cars. Hello congestion. Hello Road Pricing. Ontario will save Toronto’s surface transportation system by forcing it to tax its roads. Ruthlessly cutting meager transportation funding is to be expected as a measure in the progress of this multi-billion dollar automotive-sprawl policy. Money is made in building homes and cars, not in building roads and transit. Consumers will be left to build their own roads. No mayoral campaign can stop this. But I am heartened that it is a subject of debate in the current mayoral election.

What almost no one gets is that road use charging is needed to keep the roads under our cars, NOT to keep cars off our roads. No one. No driver. No politician. No journalist. No cyclist. No pedestrian. No philosopher. Only a handful of transport economists and cyberneticists can see this, and they, too, are for the most part unable to say what I just said for fear of being politically incorrect.

1 comment:

Goose said...

Wow, nice blog - even like the color scheme. Keep up the good work. - Todd