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How best to fund new TTC infrastructure?

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There's been a lot of talk this year about building new transit infrastructure in Toronto. However, the obstacle always comes down to: how are people going to pay for it? At the moment, there doesn't seem to be any real fiscal measures to raise funds for capital investments in the TTC. Even its operational costs are subsidized at such a small scale, it's laughable (no provincial funding.)

That being said, what kind of strategy should be taken to really get the money flowing to build new subways, LRTs, streetcars, bus routes, etc?

A few ideas I've heard in the past:

-Increased property taxes

-Regional gas tax

-Regional sales tax

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A few ideas I've heard in the past:

-Increased property taxes

-Regional gas tax

-Regional sales tax

-Highway tolls

-More provincial funding for operations

-Fare zones

-Fare increases with a certain percentage going towards an expansion fund

-More advertisements, more diverse forms of advertisements designed to attract more advertisers

-Contracting out certain departments and services (oh yeah, like that'd go over smoothly with any unions involved...)

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I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

The easiest, most fair way to raise the funding would be a flat, regional sales tax. 1% throughout the entire GO Transit service area would likely be more than enough to build and hopefully provide a bit of operational funding on a yearly basis as well.

Dan

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Articulated and I will soon be able to present several options based on the identical project we've been working on throughout the entire semester here at the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University.

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"-More advertisements, more diverse forms of advertisements designed to attract more advertisers"

The amount of advertising on the TTC is already crazy! (Then again, this is coming from a Montréalais.)

Provincial funding for operational costs is a must, imo.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

The easiest, most fair way to raise the funding would be a flat, regional sales tax. 1% throughout the entire GO Transit service area would likely be more than enough to build and hopefully provide a bit of operational funding on a yearly basis as well.

Dan

I am all for this, as well. Regional 1% sales tax, and possibly a regional gas tax are my two favourite options for raising funds for new projects. If it's regional, it can therefore be divided into different projects that go across the GTA, with an obvious emphasis on Toronto (considering the population and the amount of economic activity that occurs there.)

In fact, there is a group that has been launched very recently, called "Unlock Gridlock: The 1% Solution" that is championing the 1% regional sales tax. Notably, it would fund the DRL. http://www.unlockgridlock.ca/ There's actually a Symposium tomorrow night being held by them. Clayton Ruby, Gary McNeil (GO prez), and Alfredo Romano (developer) will be there. I'm thinking I'll go, since the student price isn't terrible (25$).

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"-More advertisements, more diverse forms of advertisements designed to attract more advertisers"

The amount of advertising on the TTC is already crazy! (Then again, this is coming from a Montréalais.)

Maybe they can get those spinning hubcaps with advertisements on them that taxis have for buses. Or have destination signs flash "99 ARROW ROAD / Route sponsored by / Coca-Cola / 99 ARROW ROAD". And even auto announcements that announce nearby company stores along routes. :P

But yeah, it is a little excessive at times.

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Transit advertising comprises such a tiny portion of revenue and and has an even smaller impact upon balancing transit operating budgets that I wonder why it is used, or even considered for expansion in cases like this.

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Hah, I must admit that would be funny. :P "Welcome to the Coca-Cola Rocket, please move to the back of the bus, and enjoy a refreshing sip of our latest Coke Zero. Thank you."

Transit advertising comprises such a tiny portion of revenue and and has an even smaller impact upon balancing transit operating budgets that I wonder why it is used, or even considered for expansion in cases like this.

Hm, that's interesting. Will you be posting the results of your findings from your project on here, btw?

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Hm, that's interesting. Will you be posting the results of your findings from your project on here, btw?

As long as the rest of my group is ok with it, which I'm sure they will be, I will do that, no problem.

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I'm a fan of a regional tax, congestion charge (ala London), a regional licencing fee. Drop it all into a dedicated account with accountability (direct reporting to tax payers) and put it all back into transit. As Jeremy Clarkson said, the only way to get them to stop driving is to make it too expensive that it makes riding a horse more practical (although I'd prefer a bus in TO.)

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"-More advertisements, more diverse forms of advertisements designed to attract more advertisers"

Balderdash.

As Orion VIII rightfully pointed out, transit advertising only produces a small amount of revenue compared to other parts of revenue generating sources. The money would have a much more profound impact being spent on service improvements/expansion.

Remember, the branding for a transit system comes from the service you provide and how well you provide it, not the amount of advertisements present on a bus.

Besides, I'm sure riders would not be pleased if they can't look outside windows of a bus due to an ad wrap around it.

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The GTA really needs to look at Tolls, percentage of gas taxes (1%), percentage of sales tax (1%), parking fees, car registration tax if they really want to build transit in the GTA to a level where it needs to be!

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Gas Tax would be best IMO. Also I think Toronto should have a 3.50% Hotel tax such as Montreal and Quebec City.

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The GTA really needs to look at Tolls, percentage of gas taxes (1%), percentage of sales tax (1%), parking fees, car registration tax if they really want to build transit in the GTA to a level where it needs to be!

You forgot to include Congestion tax within the city proper or downtown core. Even with all that it still won't be enough, but it's a start and must be done.

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Definitely support the ideas of a regional sales/gas tax, and car registration fee. Not sure about increasing parking fees - they are already pretty high imo.

Hotel tax sounds interesting! Never heard of that type of measure before. Could be quite justifiable too, since tourists would then pay into improving a service they'd make a lot of good use of while in town.

Can you explain to me what a congestion tax means?

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I was recently informed that a mileage based fee would be the best way to fairly raise the most money. Everybody reports their mileage when they purchase their new license sticker, the fee could be applied automatically based on a flat amount for each kilometer driven.

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I was recently informed that a mileage based fee would be the best way to fairly raise the most money. Everybody reports their mileage when they purchase their new license sticker, the fee could be applied automatically based on a flat amount for each kilometer driven.

To play devil's advocate here on this idea... how do you divide up that money? Does Toronto get to claim all of the mileage, even if I was driving down in the States? Northern Ontario? Mississauga (and using their infrastructure, not Toronto's)?

I'd rather see a congestion fee than a mileage-based fee given those circumstances. And even then, I'm opposed to congestion fees solely on the basis that I work downtown and am required as part of my job to drive to work as I may have to quickly attend another location of ours in an emergency. Yes, it's actually written into my job description.

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To play devil's advocate here on this idea... how do you divide up that money? Does Toronto get to claim all of the mileage, even if I was driving down in the States? Northern Ontario? Mississauga (and using their infrastructure, not Toronto's)?

Yes it should but the the fund should be used to pay for all road and transit projects across the province.

Even if the fee was only 1¢ per km it would be more than enough.

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I was recently informed that a mileage based fee would be the best way to fairly raise the most money. Everybody reports their mileage when they purchase their new license sticker, the fee could be applied automatically based on a flat amount for each kilometer driven.

I think that's a terrible idea.

Transit is something that is used and benefits everyone, not just auto drivers. Thus I don't think that they should be the only ones required to pay for improvements. Not only that but if your end-game is less auto use, you'll get there quickly with this method but also result with lower revenues - as people pay more they would (in theory) be less inclined to drive - which is precisely what you don't want.

If you use a funding method that reaches a very broad area and a maximum number of people - such as a flat sales tax - it is much easier for everyone to take.

Dan

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Definitely support the ideas of a regional sales/gas tax, and car registration fee. Not sure about increasing parking fees - they are already pretty high imo.

Hotel tax sounds interesting! Never heard of that type of measure before. Could be quite justifiable too, since tourists would then pay into improving a service they'd make a lot of good use of while in town.

Can you explain to me what a congestion tax means?

Look up London, England.

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Transit is something that is used and benefits everyone, not just auto drivers. Thus I don't think that they should be the only ones required to pay for improvements. Not only that but if your end-game is less auto use, you'll get there quickly with this method but also result with lower revenues - as people pay more they would (in theory) be less inclined to drive - which is precisely what you don't want.

If you use a funding method that reaches a very broad area and a maximum number of people - such as a flat sales tax - it is much easier for everyone to take.

Dan

This is indeed why a regional sales tax is one of the top measures I would support. As someone who doesn't drive or own property within the City of Toronto, I would be more than happy to see some money from the products and services I purchase go towards funding infrastructures I would make use of.

Congestion tax: did some quick reading on London's set-up. I've heard about it when it was just starting out, actually. I'm somewhat in favour of it. However, I don't think it should be prohibitive.. as it may discourage people from doing things downtown, in favour of suburban locations (shopping, etc.) People who need to drive downtown would also be harder hit. And similar to what Dan said, fundraising should not be exclusively limited to auto users. So.. maybe a light C-tax alongside other measures that everyone can pay.

If Toronto would ever go ahead with such a tax, I would say it's important to set up park n ride's at key locations on subway/streetcar lines just outside the C-tax zone.

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