Metrolinx, the Provincial agency charged with handling transit in Ontario has announced its recommendations on how fund improvements to transit in the GTA. They have made the following recommendations:
- 1% increase to the HST. This seems the easiest, and is not ‘income’ specific (i.e. higher earners tend to make bigger ticket purchases and thus pay more in HST, yet transit is open to all.) Also, low income families receive an HST rebate to help cover the cost of the HST. The Federal Government has dropped their portion of te HST (the former GST) by 2% in the last 10 years, so a 1% increase still means that people will be paying less than they did several years ago. This increase, according to Metrolinx, will bring in $1.3 billion in the GTA for transit.
- A five cent per litre gas tax in the GTA. While this might sound unpopular, drivers already use the road for free, and better transit will not only tax other drivers off the road (making it easier for people who drive), but also opens up new opportunites for drivers to get out of their cars and not pay for gas at all!
- Tolling single occupancy users to High Occupancy Lanes. A great idea, however, I don’t know how Metrolinx expects to make sure people don;t get away with using the lanes for free.
- Parking Levy. An average of 25 cents per space per day for commercial parking. Again, the end result is if you drive you pay for it.
- Development Charges icnreased 15%. Increasing development costs, the costs the municipalities charge for the infrastructure to the development. This increases the costs of new development, but helps to pay for some of the costs of bringing transit, or improving transit, to or around the development.
- Paid Parking at GO Transit stations. Uaers who drive to GO stations would pay a small amount everyday for parking. Seeing that GO has added parking structures at many stations, and has an agreement with many local transit services that sees GO subsidize trips to and from the local GO station. As such this seems a very reasonable option, esepcially as GO is in the business of transportation, not parking.
I am in support of these iniatives and I hope the Provincial Government will implement these decisions in the immidate future. We need better transit, and these ideas will go a long way to funding transit.