John Tory takes transit users on a ride

Item date: 
January 22, 2015
Item context: 

Columnist Chris Hume correctly wonders why politicians like John Tory are comfortable with increasing transit fares but won't look at fares (tolls) for drivers. 

By CHRISTOPHER HUME

... (Toronto Mayor John) Tory is another in a long line of leaders who lack the capacity or imagination to figure any other way to fund transit than through fares. They cannot grasp the idea that transit deserves a bigger slice of the existing revenue pie; to them, others things — like keeping taxes low — are more important. So instead, they raise fares. If the system needs cash, make users pay.

Yet if a similar user-pay approach were implemented, say, in the case of vehicular traffic, we’d hear no end of it. The drivers’ basic argument is that they already own the roads and cover their costs through the taxes they pay, thank you very much...

Tory would rather pluck out his own eyes than suggest, let alone implement, road tolls, congestion fees, parking levies or some sort of user-pay arrangement for drivers. Though his overriding concern is congestion, his underlying assumption is that, as important as transit may be, the car is essential.

Transit is great. No one approves more than Tory. But neither he nor his allies confuse public transit with the private automobile. The former is optional; the latter fundamental.

This sort of thinking is woefully outdated, but who cares? Toronto’s faith that all will be well on that happy day when congestion is eliminated may be pure fantasy, but it’s enough to keep us warm and smug even on the coldest winter’s day.

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