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View Poll Results: Toronto congestion tax
Great idea bring it on - the higher the better 13 22.03%
Might be okay if traffic actually drops - needs to be reasonable 17 28.81%
A grudging maybe but it's mostly a tax grab 6 10.17%
Horrid idea...bury it 23 38.98%
Voters: 59. You may not vote on this poll

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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 11:12 AM   #1
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Thumbs up Toronto blueprint?? fewer cars, better city

What others are doing. I really like that Curitiba system.

I am buying a Honda Silverwing today I hope if all goes well and plan on much more extensive use for casual run errands as it has good storage.
I was talking to one of the dealers and they said new models are sold out until next year :shock:
Saw a older husband and wife running about on a pair of scooters as well.
Now this might be common for Europe but for suburban Ontario....it's a big change.

Here are some brilliant solutions I wish Toronto would take note of

Quote:
Super travel systems
By ELIZABETH TAI

The hike in the price of oil has successfully done what environmentalists have been trying to do for decades: forced the public as well as the Government to seriously consider public transportation options.

EARLIER this month, Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop announced that a more efficient public transport system will be among the main thrusts of Budget 2009.

“We will be improving public transport not only in Kuala Lumpur but also in other areas,” he was quoted as saying in The Star’s news pages on June 13.

According to the minister, only about 20% of Malaysians use public transport; in some developed countries, between 50% and 70% of the population do so.

“We hope to double (Malaysia’s) figure to 40% in the next five years, but we need to come up with a plan to encourage more people to use public transport,” he said.

May we present public transportation systems in five cities that do just that? Hopefully, the highlights of these efficient systems that we offer here will inspire ideas on how Malaysia could improve its own systems and achieve that 40% figure.

Portland, Oregon, United States

Strangely, in a country where most towns are planned around the use of cars, cars are not king in Portland. Instead of building freeways and widening roads, Portland chose to invest money in better public transportation.

But it was a very different story 30 years ago.

Thanks to forward-thinking public officials, Portland folk enjoy not only an efficient transport system but also car-less and treefilled streets in some areas of the city. – Travel Portland

Back in the 1970s, Portland was choking on its polluted air. According to a 1987 New York Times article (Portland: So long cars, hello people), the city’s “air quality violated (US) Federal standards” 275 days a year on average, in the mid-1970s.

But in 1978, the city made a radical move: passenger cars were banned from two main streets in the downtown area and a “cap” was placed on parking spaces in the city.

As a result, residents were forced to take public transport, but city officials eased the pain by providing thousands of parking bays around the city and – a radical concept! – free public transport in the “no cars” area, which is appropriately called “Fareless Square”. Today, it covers most of downtown Portland and the Lloyd District.

Portland now not only enjoys better air quality – it also has a stellar public transportation system. So stellar that in 2006, it was dubbed the best in the world by The best public services in the world segment on the BBC’s Newsnight programme.

According to the show, use of public transport in Portland rose 65% in 10 years, 1996 to 2006.

In the city, people have a number of highly integrated transportation options: buses, trams, the Metropolitan Area Express (MAX) light rail, and streetcars. There’s even an aerial tram that connects the South Waterfront district to the main Oregon Health and Science University campus and hospital.

And if they so desire, people can opt to bike around the city. Portland is one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities and has a network of bike lanes to ensure that it’ll be a safe ride all the way. Bicyclists can also take their bikes on the MAX or on buses. In those 10 years Newsnight looked at, cycling traffic increased by a staggering 257%!

And it doesn’t end there – because roller-blading and skateboarding are also encouraged, there are skateboarding lanes too!

London

Back in 2006, when over 2,000 travellers from around the world voted that London had the world’s best public transportation system, many Londoners snorted in disbelief – understandably, since the announcement came after a series of strikes had disrupted underground subway services in August.

(The survey by travel website TripAdvisor gave the second spot to New York City, third to Paris, and fourth and fifth to Washington DC and Hong Kong respectively. The worst system in the world belonged to Los Angeles – though some Malaysians may want to dispute that.)

London’s Tube is the world’s oldest system – and looks it, at times! But it also has an enviable 268 stations and 400km of tracks. – AFP

Despite its win, London’s public transport is also considered one of the most expensive. And its system of underground trains and stations (called the “Tube”) are accessed through a network of narrow stairs and tunnels that are not very disabled friendly.

Still, as one British newspaper, The Independent, puts it, while the Tube is not perfect, what makes it a gem is that it goes everywhere people want to go.

For one, the Tube, being the oldest underground train system in the world, has 268 stations and 400km of tracks. It connects to a train system that makes it easy for commuters to not only travel into and out of London but around all of Britain, too.

In 2003, London’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, introduced the controversial congestion charge to reduce traffic congestion in central London.

When a vehicle enters a congestion charge zone between 7am and 6pm, the driver is charged £8 (about RM50). Because there are cameras at every entry point that can record license plate numbers with 90% accuracy, drivers cannot skip payment; and if they try, they face a stiff £250 (RM1,600) fine.

London is the largest city so far to adopt congestion pricing, and it’s certainly paying off. According to the 2007 edition of Sustainable Transport, the congestion charge has increased London’s bus patronage by 32%, bike use by 43%, and now some 70,000 fewer vehicles enter the charging zone on a daily basis.

Before the charge was introduced, Londoners spent 50% of their time in traffic snarls, which cost the city around £2mil to £4mil (RM12.8mil to RM25.6mil) every week.

Besides reducing traffic and improving air quality (there was a 16% reduction of road traffic CO2 emissions), the congestion charge also raise a gross revenue of about £213mil (RM1.3bil), with £90mil (RM576mil) covering operating costs.

These initiatives won the city the 2008 Sustainable Transport Award, given out by the US-based Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Another way in which London ensures efficiency is by working with private bus companies (it has more than 20 years experience doing so) that are closely monitored.

The city hires community activists to electronically record bus arrivals and publishes the results on the Internet. The private transit operators are paid for the number of passengers they carry and on-time performance.

Recent incentives for the three private operators to grow subway customer base has resulted in a 50% increase in capacity.

And, of course, those iconic double-decker buses also provide an increased customer base.

Curitiba, Brazil

Curitiba’s public transport system is non-subsidised, cost- and energy- efficient, and well designed – it is no wonder that it is hailed as a model for the rest of the world to follow.

The Brazilian city of 3 million received the United Nations Environmental Award in 1990, the Worldwatch Institute Prize in 1991, and the CITIES Award for Excellence in 2002.

The man responsible for putting the city on the world map is former three-time Curitiba mayor, Jamie Lerner. Lerner, an architect, was responsible for developing Curitiba’s “bus rapid transit” (BRT) system over 30 years ago.

Curitiba’s efficient system has passengers paying fares at the tube bus stations so they can board buses quickly without having to pay the fare on them. – citytransport.info

This system is said to be the most efficient, cost-effective public transportation system in the world, and more than 80 countries have adopted it.

Mini buses pick up people from residential neighbourhoods and “feed” them to buses travelling in dedicated bus lanes that circle the city. Passengers alight and get on buses from tube-like bus stops that have outlets such as post offices and public phones. To speed up the movement of buses and passengers, passengers pay their fares at these bus stops rather than on the buses.

“A system of bus rapid transit is not only dedicated lanes,” said Lerner in a 2006 interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (From Brazil: A different kind of bus system, April 12).

“You have to have really good boarding conditions – that means paying before entering the bus, and boarding at the same level. And at the same time, having a good schedule and frequency. We have a system where you don’t have to wait more than one minute. That defines the quality.”


The bus stops’ unique tube shape allow for easy disembarkation and embarkation. – citytransport.info

Besides the BRT, Lerner also used the space in the city to effectively support the transportation system; for instance, houses for the elderly were built near public transportation hubs.

“Seventy per cent of the population of Curitiba uses public transportation and bicycles because we have made it easy and convenient for them,” he said in an interview with design website Design 21 last year.

Land use in the city has actually been planned so that it supports public transit systems. For instance, buildings along the dedicated bus ways are up to six stories tall, with that height gradually lowering within a few blocks until it’s down to single storey homes. Mixing densities like this ensures enough of the population is within walking distance of bus stops.

According to the 2005/2006 article Curitiba’s Bus System is Model for Rapid Transit, Curitibanos spend only 10% of their income on travel, which is way below Brazil’s national average.

Lerner puts it best: “If you provide good public alternatives for private transport, you won’t have traffic problems. Can you imagine how much better the city could become with 30% fewer cars running in the street?” (from the same Seattle Post-Intelligencer article).
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 11:25 AM   #2
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I voted yes to the tax, but there should be a qualifier that the money be used to ramp up public transit in some way. London has such a tax; NYC recently voted down the tax. Let's face it: the move towards energy independence/efficiency will be more painful for some than for others. Somebody I know of in Portland is wedded to cars, yet can't afford one, and had a vehicle repo'd. He would never dream of taking that nifty train.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 11:31 AM   #3
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I voted yes to the tax, but there should be a qualifier that the money be used to ramp up public transit in some way.
I'll agree to the qualifier. I'd only ever support taxes that effectively target those creating the problem, have a finite period outlined for their execution, and that are dedicated to a specific plan. Needless to say not many taxes are like this so there are few I can heartily support.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 11:49 AM   #4
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Growing up in NYC, when the population was just over 8 million, I only knew one friend who owned his own car. I used the subway system extensively, buses at times, and cabs about once a year. Still, I was surprised to hear that the tax plan was voted down in NYC.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:01 PM   #5
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Toronto has been so responsible with its money so far, why not trust it again?
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:02 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Dr.G. View Post
Growing up in NYC, when the population was just over 8 million, I only knew one friend who owned his own car. I used the subway system extensively, buses at times, and cabs about once a year. Still, I was surprised to hear that the tax plan was voted down in NYC.
Hence the paradoxical phrase, "Nobody drives in New York, there's too much traffic."

It is surprising that that was voted down in NY but I wonder if maybe people assumed it would affect Cabs as well? Can you imagine if cab fare in NY doubled? I'm not sure what the details were of the NY tax.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:11 PM   #7
 
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Toronto has been so responsible with its money so far, why not trust it again?
Exactly. Our city council in Toronto is so spend happy, so ready to throw money at useless endeavors, and so eager to burn money as if there was no tomorrow, there is NO doubt that this system would solve almost nothing (but I still support the idea).

The reality is that Toronto has been far to generous to car drivers.

There should be ZERO free parking in Toronto ANYTIME, ANYWHERE. I see side streets used all the time for people to leave their cars all day. Add to that the latest news that parking tickets aren't worth the paper they are printed on, and now you have a system where anybody can park for free!
TheStar.com | GTA | The Fixer: Parking tickets vanish
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Anyone who receives a $30 Toronto parking ticket can almost certainly dodge the fine by applying for a court date.

Since the start of 2006, figures provided by Toronto's court services show it accepted about 250,000 requests from drivers to contest a $30 parking ticket, but trial dates were issued for only about 4,300. In 2008, drivers have so far requested more than 37,000 trials for $30 parking tickets, but no court dates have been issued.
That settles it for me! I'm no longer going to pay for public parking, if the City of Toronto can't clean up it's act.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:19 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Hence the paradoxical phrase, "Nobody drives in New York, there's too much traffic."
A large percentage of the traffic in NYC is delivery trucks, cabs and buses.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:34 PM   #9
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Toronto has been so responsible with its money so far, why not trust it again?
If Toronto continues being irresponsible with its money it will become such a cesspool of crime and filth it will be difficult for you to stay and indeed, those same conditions can negatively impact the sale of your home once you've decided to bug out.

Not imposing congestion controls of any sort just might appease people who decry the wanton wasting of public funds, but on the other hand it fails to address the problem of too many cars on our streets. Let that problem worsen and various economic and services factors which make a large city viable as an industrial and economic base can also slide into disrepute and wither away. The good work and the money it brings into the city - not to mention the the people themselves, the movers and shakers with the smarts and resources to make a difference - will decamp to other cities more driven than Toronto to make themselves work. Hello, cesspool.

It doesn't have to be that way. Nor does a congestion tax automatically mean the city will continue to squander public money, simply adding the new tax to the cushy pile. We as citizens can fight that.

I don't see how doing nothing will solve the problem. Perhaps a congestion tax is not the best solution and perhaps a combination of tools can work to ease the gridlock and frustration out there. But doing zip because you think the city is already irresponsible and unaccountable? Seems terribly defeatist to me.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2008, 12:44 PM   #10
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Such whining. Drivers will choose or not choose to drive on the streets by themselves, based on how pleasant or unpleasant they find the experience. SOMETHING MUST BE DONE! Pass the hair shirt please.

Ensuring that only the rich will be able to drive is the typical government elitist solution. Just watch this blueprint repeated in Dion's carbon tax proposal--under which only the rich will be able to afford the unmitigated used of fossil fuel.
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