There’s been big news in the world of Toronto public transit since our successful Toronto TransitCamp on February 4th. First there was the funding announcement for the $2 billion subway expansion to York University and into York Region. Now plans are ready for a $6 billion network of suburban light-rail crisscrossing the under-served suburban communities in our mega-city. (See Steve Munro’s blog for more detailed comments.)
So, where is the money to pay for this plan? And what can social-media-enabled citizens do about it? First you can sign the petition for Mayor Miller’s “one cent solution”: http://www.onecentnow.ca/. That was easy. But is that enough?
In order to continue investing at the level required to meet anticipated current and future needs, we need a more stable and sustainable source of funding than the fickle whims of senior levels of government. I am a proponent of a congestion charge for the downtown core, like the one used in London. It has been very successful there, with demonstrable results.
There have also been some protests and issues with implementing the congestion charge, as you might imagine. Thankfully we can learn from the London experience and do things better, using technology developed right in our own backyard.
Skymeter is a startup company that resides in the incubator at Mars and has the technology to efficiently implement pretty much any congestion charge pricing scheme a policy wonk might imagine. See Peter Evans’ post discussing Skymeter’s disruptive potential and its listing as one of Business 2.0’s top disruptive companies.
The model exists, the technology exists, the need exists. So what’s missing?
“Tolls” have been the political 3rd rail in Toronto since 2003 when then-candidate Miller mused about their usefulness to meet the transportation challenges of the future. What can the Toronto blogging community do to make a congestion charge to fund transit a viable alternative on the policy and political agenda.
So, my fellow blogosphere citizens, let’s start a conversation:
Can a congestion charge for downtown Toronto reduce congestion in the core, improve travel times AND help fund transit expansion at the same time? If not, why not? If so, why is nobody talking about it?