The politics of transportation 2003

For the past 4 years, I used public transit almost exclusively. It was a decision I made based on efficiency. While taking night school or going to work I saved on parking charges and eliminated traffic nightmares on the major highways. When I drove, it was to go shopping for large items or outside the city which was rare. The money I saved from not driving, I used to pay off the student loan and buy a home. I did not compromise my savings. However, I have noticed that the public transit has deteriorated every year. This phenomenon has made me consider driving exclusively.

When I was younger, I lived walking distance to schools and had a bicycle to ride to school with. I used the bus ad in the summer I rode my bike or walked. When I was older, I used my mother’s car exclusively, the only request was that I drop her at work and pick her up. I do not like driving, but living in the suburbs, it was a necessity even in an inner suburb like Scarborough. The buses do not work 24 hours and the service is erratic and infrequent. After having a few summer jobs outside the city of Toronto, I vowed never to use regional public transit again. When I finished my undergraduate degree, I decided to never work outside the city because of public transit. My preference is to work close to where I live, walk to work in summer and winter when there are transport problems. I live downtown and do not mind travelling to the edges of the city to work.

There are many advocates of public transit who demand subways to the airport and a university that is right on the edge of the city of Toronto. I disagree because outside the downtown core, few people use public transit. For seven days a week, the traffic generated in the downtown core for public transit exceeds that of the rest of the city combined. Why build new subways where people prefer to drive? The money should be spent on where the service can be improved. The public transit system would be better off.

I have noticed a terrible decline in the transit system in the downtown core despite more people moving and living downtown. I lived in the inner and outer suburbs of Toronto and know that people prefer to drive. The public transit should not waste time trying to get more people in subways when they want to drive. A simple solution is to reduce the subways going north, east and west of the city and increase the frequency of the subways downtown to 2 to 3 minutes every rush hour. That is the advertised frequency but I know it is more like 5 to 6 minutes because I take the subway in the morning. The street cars are worse, they advertise frequent service which means under 2 to 3 minutes, but when you see 3 of them at the same time, it means some people will be waiting for 10-20 minutes in rush hour.

I will not comment on how crowded the buses, street cars and subways are during rush hour in the downtown core because it is not the transit authority’s fault. However I notice how at the edges of the city, the buses and subways are never crowded even during rush hour. Why build subways to nowhere when the need is greatest in one area? The answer is that politicians love big projects, but they never budget for their maintenance. I have tried public systems around the world, some like in Japan advertise TV and radio on the systems and charge fares based on length of travel, but the systems are still heavily subsidized by governments. I prefer the Toronto system, but admit that if I am travelling in the downtown core for two or three stops, it is cheaper and more convenient to walk. A dollar fare for the downtown core for one way and an additional 2 dollars for travel outside the downtown core for everyone. That means no discounts for seniors, students and politicians. Why do politicians get free passes when they prefer to be driven at the taxpayers’ expense?

This entry was posted on Monday, August 25th, 2003 at 10:32 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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