If Toronto and Canada really want to compete in the new global economy we need to innovate; sticking our head in the sand or relying on outdated statutes doesn't cut it. If there are legitimate concerns about specific facets of these new business models, then legislators need to meet with the firms and address them. It's time to get on with it.
American and Canadian transit opponents paint themselves as populist supporters of the common people, a tactic also used against carbon pricing. They fail to note that poor and middle class families will benefit most from public transit and other sustainable transportation options. To reduce pollution and address global warming, we must do everything we can, from conserving energy to shifting to cleaner energy sources. Improving transportation and transit infrastructure is one of the easiest ways to do so while providing more options for people to get around.
Changing the way we move through cities is a critical step in reducing carbon emissions. The most direct way to accomplish this is to provide urbanites with reliable alternatives to automobile travel. A two-car household that replaces one vehicle with alternative transportation can cut its annual emissions by 10 per cent.
The results of the recent municipal election have produced a strong mandate for renewed investment in transit and transportation. In an era of fiscal constraint, how does the Ontario government get the biggest bang for its buck out of this fund? The answer is right under its nose: trust in the made-in-Ontario Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) model. The government uses the AFP model as a means to leverage capital and expertise from the private sector to design, build, finance, and maintain major infrastructure projects. In doing so, the model transfers the risk of project cost increases and scheduling delays on to the private sector.
High quality public transit costs money. Someone needs to pay for it. At the moment, riders are paying a large portion of those costs. The City shouldn't change that. Someone working on Bay Street and living in King West probably doesn't need a free ride. But maybe someone at Jane and Finch needs a break on fares. A surgical approach is preferable to a blunt instrument.
I live in the city of Toronto with three young children. I am a driver and I am a pedestrian. But I am a pedestrian first. Unfortunately, many of the drivers in this city do not share my love of pedestrianism. They do not, in fact, seem to care about the safety and well-being of my children at all. So I put together a few simple rules to help them avoid running over kids with their cars.
There's growing recognition that prioritizing transit is crucial to moving a region forward. Transit-oriented cities have better air quality with lower greenhouse gas emissions and benefit from reduced traffic congestion with shorter commuting times. Evidence even shows people in cities with a range of transportation options, like Vancouver, are less sedentary, get more exercise and are happier and healthier as a result.
In railing against everything from bike lanes to transit spending, pundits and politicians often raise the spectre of a "war on cars." Of course, there is no war on cars -- but there should be. Combatting pollution and climate change, reduced dependency on private automobiles will lead to healthier people, fewer deaths and injuries and livable cities with happier citizens. And that's worth fighting for!
One innovative plan that has been considered for about a decade, but has never been funded, is a system commonly used in Europe called "headway operations." This means buses depart at regular intervals keeping the headway (time between buses) even and avoiding bunching, instead of trying vainly to stay on a fixed schedule in widely varying conditions. This is how most rapid transit systems including SkyTrain operate.
For such a real estate rich city, Vancouverites have some fairly backwards attitudes, witnessed most recently in the vehement and emotional outbursts opposing high-density developments along transit lines. But what's wrong with a 20-storey tower? We need to think bigger and higher because in 20 years, we'll be standing outside the station on Cambie and looking at little 4-storey buildings and asking why we didn't.
TransLink -- everyone's favourite whipping boy in the Lower Mainland -- is about to be put to the electoral test and it promises not to be pretty. The fate of TransLink's future funding will be decided in the midst of the introduction of the Compass card, and Lower Mainland residents know full well how that initiative has been going as of late. It doesn't bode well for the vote.
If TransLink is as broke as it claims to be, why are taxpayers so grossly overpaying its chief executive officer? Ian Jarvis received $394,730 in salary, incentives and taxable benefits in 2012, plus another $32,552 in taxpayer-funded petition contributions. On top of that, Jarvis took $11,418 in "other" benefits, including a "Wellness Allowance" that apparently only the CEO is eligible for. That's a total compensation package of $438,700. Jarvis made $140,000 more last year than the province's deputy transportation minister, Grant Main. He made $200,000 more than Premier Christy Clark. Clark wasn't alone; Jarvis out earned Prime Minister Stephen Harper by nearly $75,000.
Giving TransLink more tax dollars is like giving a pyromaniac a fresh box of matches. Both will eventually run out and keep coming back for more -- unless they change their ways. TransLink's executive vice-president Bob Paddon, he of the $307,857 annual pay, claims his operation is an "efficient and well-run organization." The facts prove otherwise. TransLink is a rat's nest of redundancy and waste.
At TransLink, the inmates are now running the asylum. With such little support from taxpayers, riders, mayors, the minister and the board chair, TransLink's push for a $23 billion tax-and-spend binge is coming from its senior executive team. They are making media appearances and desperately trying to push for higher taxes. It will be up to the taxpayers to take the keys away from the transportation authority's senior executives
When it comes to urban sustainability, cities in the U.S. and Canada are employing innovative programs and policies to improve the health and well-being of residents and their local environments. But (with some notable exceptions, such as Vancouver and Calgary) no successful rapid transit infrastructure projects have been built in Canadian cities for decades.
Not only are buses not designed for strollers (especially folded up), our culture is not designed for it either. People on buses and the Skytrain are not very friendly. They don't appreciate anyone who is not fully compact with those annoying backpacks and totally tuned out on their iPods. Anyone with wheelchairs, bikes, packages or babies are considered an infringement on their right to travel without acknowledging those around them.