Congestion Charge

No more free ride for the 905!
Congestion Charge is a hard choice that Toronto needs to make today.

Sarah Thomson calls for a congestion charge on commuters who live outside Toronto. Over 344,000 people commute into Toronto daily and do not pay taxes to the city. Toronto must recover some of the costs they impose on our system.

piechart Congestion Charge

A $5 congestion charge would provide the revenue to allow Toronto to:

  1. Pay for the backlog of TCHC repairs ($791 million)
  2. Dedicated funding for Rent Geared to income housing ($100 million/year)
  3. Build subways by taking planned TTC lines underground ($200 million/year)
  4. Improvements to TTC infrastructure ($100 million/year)
  5. Create urban farms and solar infrastructure ($100 million/year)
  6. Give FREE off-peak transit to students, seniors and people on ODSP ($54.6 million/year)
  7. Reduce recreational user fees ($20 million/year)

As more and more residents from other communities come into Toronto each day, it has become difficult to carry the cost of maintaining the services that these 344,136 daily commuters use – from water, to sewers, to garbage and roads; from policing to ambulance services – the extra cost commuters place on our city puts a huge burden on our system.

There are more people entering Toronto daily than the entire population of Burlington and Oakville combined and they spend the majority of their waking day in our city, using our water, our sewers, our electricity, and our roads.

The congestion charge would apply to all commuters who do not reside in Toronto but come in from the north crossing Steeles Avenue into North York and Scarborough; and commuters from the west who come from Mississauga into Etobicoke; and in the east from Pickering into Scarborough over the Scarborough-Pickering townline.

map Congestion Charge

Toronto map CC BY-SA 3.0 Lencer - own work, used: OpenStreetMap http://www.toronto.ca/demographics/profiles_map_and_index.htm minimap created with Greater toronto area map-de.svg by NordNordWest

Studies of other cities with congestion charges show the charge has had a positive impact not only on quality of life, but on the overall economy.1

Sarah Thomson explains: “My vision for Toronto is a city where residents can travel easily, where arts, sports and learning activities are plentiful; a city where our restaurants are full, our theatres are busy and our parks are enjoyed.  My city would have urban farms and greenhouses on rooftops producing fresh local food and large mature trees lining our avenues. My city would allocate the cost of services to all those using the services in an equitable way so that Torontonians are not burdened with all the extra costs.”

The City of Toronto Act allows Toronto to raise revenues through other means.

A Sarah Thomson administration will place a $5 Congestion Charge on the over 344,000 daily commuters who don’t pay taxes to Toronto.  This $5 Congestion Charge would raise approximately $600 million per year for Toronto based on 2009 cordon counts.2

The $5 Congestion Charge would work very much like the Congestion fee in the city of London (approximately $18CDN). People can either pay in advance, on the day of, or the following day. Cameras will photograph the license plates on all of the cars entering the city.  Those not registered in Toronto would have to pay the Congestion Charge.  Emergency vehicles and Toronto residents would not have to pay the charge. Administering this program would cost approximately 20% of the funds raised each year.  As a result, the net revenue to the city would be $480 million each year.

A $5 Congestion Charge would fix the $791 million backlog of repairs needed at Toronto Community Housing in two years. The revenue stream created by this program means that the work could be started right away.  After the repairs are done (by early 2017) the $480 million raised each year would go to:

  1. Taking planned transit lines underground. Where density warrants we put heavier subway vehicles, but where density isn’t yet there we build the tunnels and use LRT underground. We must build our city for the long-term future, and tunneling today will set strong foundations for our future — and bring jobs.($200 million/year).
  2. Repairs and infrastructure improvements needed at the TTC and the entire  transit system which is hobbling with decades old equipment and is in desperate need of upgrades. ($100 million/year)
  3. Creating fully sustainable urban farms and solar infrastructure across the city. Creating job opportunities in urban farm businesses for our youth ($100 million/year).
  4. Provide dedicated funding for Rent Geared to income housing. ($100 million/year)
  5. Provide free off-peak transit to seniors, students and people on disabilities, reducing their overall costs and eliminating the financial burden on those who most need assistance ($54.6 million/year). 3
  6. Reduce the recreational user fees.  Toronto charges more for children’s learn-to-swim and learn-to-skate programs and adult fitness memberships than other cities. These programs are an investment in our children and future. ($20 million /year)

A Sarah Thomson administration will put Toronto first. While other candidates might have hidden political aspirations keeping them from making tough decisions that affect the 905, Sarah Thomson believes Toronto needs a leader committed to the city, a leader who will fight for Toronto and build strong foundations for the future.

The goal of city leaders must be to build a strong happy city where residents can flourish and live healthy happy lives. But gridlock and increasing infrastructure costs are placing a huge toll not only on our residents, but on our businesses. Toronto must combat gridlock and build a city that gives our residents what they need to live healthy happy lives.

 

References

1. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2003/aug/18/londonpolitics.greaterlondonauthority)
http://www.vtpi.org/london.pdf

2. 2009 peak study http://www.dmg.utoronto.ca/pdf/ccdrs/cordon_2009peak.pdf
peak times 6:30-10:00am total 344,136 x 350 days (50 weeks) = 120,447,600 million trips @$5 = $602.2 million to Toronto

3. http://www.ttc.ca/About_the_TTC/Commission_reports_and_information/Commission_meetings/2013/October_23/Reports/TTC_Fare_Policy_Requ.pdf

Real Ideas. Real Solutions. Real change.