How to get the 905 to love road tolls
Would those of us in the 905 ante up $5 for the privilege of sitting on the Gardiner Expressway two hours a day? Particularly if the five bucks was going to expand the Toronto subway system? The short answer, if the poll was strictly 905, is absolutely not!
If the question was slightly different the answer may be the reverse.
I avoid driving into Toronto. The last time I was forced into daily trips for work was five winters ago while restoring a house in Rosedale. Toronto is not particularly truck friendly, parking is restricted and the Green Hornets seem to stake out residential construction sites.
The trip, from home in south east Mississauga was 1 to 1 ½ hours each way, gas was about $120 a week, parking tickets $25 to $50 weekly. Any fiscally responsible contractor has to build this cost into the contract, so in this situation the extra $10 daily would be born by a Toronto resident.
Therefore, if the funding from tolls goes to the Toronto Transit Commission, that’s fine. Personally, I chose to work closer to home. Most people who make this daily pilgrimage do not have the luxury of a choice.
As chair of the Legacy Foundation, I often go to Toronto for meetings and I always take the GO train.
Herein lies the problem for a 905er with the funding going to subway expansions.
The Long Branch GO station is a mile and a half from my house at Cawthra and Lakeshore. The GO parking lot is continually full and street parking is impossible, which leaves Mississauga Transit the only option.
Here is how the trip plays out. I dutifully wait for Mississauga Transit, until I get bored, which takes five minutes, and then I walk east towards Long Branch. The Mississauga Transit bus usually passes me when I am within 200 metres of the GO station. Clearly an improved subway system in Toronto is not going to alleviate the challenge of getting people in the 905 out of cars and into transit. Toll fees directed to that end will not engender buy-in from anyone outside of Toronto.
From a 905 perspective, if the funding were going to Metrolinx to harmonize public transportation on a regional basis, I believe there would be wide support for tolls.
Transit in the GTA has traditionally taken a fortress mentality, there have been pitched battles in the past over the use of bus stops, and municipal schedules rarely connect. The problem is not so much public transit in Toronto; the problem for us is getting to it. Metrolinx was established to solve this dilemma and they have an expansive plan, “The Big Move”, to resolve this disparity.
Use the toll money for regionally improved, frequent service and I might occasionally take the car downtown just so I can contribute my $5.