Yesterday, mayoral candidate Rocco Rossi set out an idea for a tunnel to funnel more cars more quickly into downtown Toronto. The online comments looked to be over 90% negative. Similar to the comments in response to tolling (and this tunnel would be tolled!). Zoooooom. Screeeeeetch. Craaaaaash. Burrrrrrn.
Likely this idea was suicidal out of the gate, but I am glad he brought it up. It highlights once more the corner we have painted ourselves into with transit negligence, free-parking, and unfettered entitlement to tax-payer subsidized roads.
A toll on the Rossi Funnel could help pay for the new roadway – and keep it free flowing. But that would keep free roads 427 and DVP congested. Just as the 407 leaves the 401 congested. This tunnel would be a victim to triple-convergence within 18 months of opening:
- spatial convergence: drivers who formerly used alternative routes during peak hours switch to the improved expressway;
- time convergence: drivers who formerly traveled just before or after the peak hours start traveling during those hours; and
- modal convergence: some commuters who used to take public transportation during peak hours now switch to driving, since it has become faster.
Even on opening day, it would do nothing to relieve downtown congestion without attention to parking. In fact it will make it much worse. If we fixed the parking problem by pricing it right, we could get the city out of debt and then build funnels. Actually, if we priced parking right, you wouldn’t need the tunnel. We could bail the city out of debt instead of burying it further. People drive their cars for three reasons: they are cheap, transit is terrible, and the personal vehicle is, well, personal. If we addressed the first two, congestion would evaporate and our municipal debt could be addressed.