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April 2011
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Gridlock as an Election Issue?

The Globe and Mail published an article on making gridlock /congestion /traffic a federal election issue through the use of social media, using #CutMyCommute. Burdened by long drives from home-to-work, home-to-shop, home-to-wherever, commuters believe they should be heard, and they have the support of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Gridlock isn’t the issue. The issue is lack of a provincial public transportation network. People live in the suburbs because it’s cheap, they have more space and can afford bigger homes.

Isn’t that the tradeoff? One trades the freedom of space for the freedom of time?

But the fault doesn’t lie entirely with the commuters. They are forced to drive their cars to and from work since there is no viable transportation network in and around the cities. By downloading public transit infrastructure to the municipalities the result is a disjointed   system. Transit systems should be uploaded to the provincial governments and a costsharing agreement should be worked out between the provinces and the municipalities, based on ridership demographics.

While I endorse gridlock as an election issue, it should not be a standalone issue. It should be raised with public transit and land use plans; it should be a part of the connectivity issue.

Comments

Comment from Ian
Time April 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm

While I agree this is an issue, this is kind of a disjointed post.

You advocate uploading municipal transit to the province, so how is this explicitly related to the current federal election besides asking the feds to hand over money to the provinces so they can take on the new responsibility?

With regard specifically to uploading transit systems, in Ontario the TTC far and away dwarfs all the other systems combined. But if the province were to take it over, what is there to suggest that a politician from Wawa is going to be interested in the scheduling of the 36 Finch West?

For things that are truly local, exactly like local transit, control should remain local. The province can worry about the regional transportation system (GO) and coordinate between two local systems at their boundary (TTC and Mississauga Transit for example).

That said, I certainly think it is a responsibility of the province to provide financial assistance, both at the operating and capital levels for local transit since having a working city strongly benefits their treasury.

Comment from Sasha
Time April 25, 2011 at 3:59 pm

I thought about this more. I guess I was looking too much at the inefficiencies in the management of all the municipal transit systems. And yes, TTC dwarfs them all.

I also thought about it in terms of overall cost of someone coming in from the suburbs. For instance I thought of someone coming in from Mississauga. They have to pay for Mississauga Transit. Then the likely have to pay to get on the GO Train. Then again they have to pay when the get on the TTC. Overall if I think about the costs in comparison to other systems it is comparable. I think the frustration is having the right token or ticket for each system with no central place to buy the ticket.

I think there are some cost efficiencies that could be realized from combining the systems, something that they all could learn by putting their heads together. But that’s also the plan for Metrolinx.

(and I apologize for the disjointed post, too much time on the ski hill instead of in the office!)

Comment from Sasha
Time April 26, 2011 at 2:33 pm

More on a national public transit strategy … http://torontoist.com/2011/04/last_week_the_federation_of.php