To fund the expansion and improvement of public transportation and relieve traffic congestion for Toronto and the Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH), it is imperative to move forward with a regional funding strategy.
Our transit needs are too urgent to continue relying on one-time provincial funding. Gridlock has become so severe that the status quo, traffic congestion that costs the GGH $6 billion a year and which has an adverse impact on our residents’ quality of life, is unacceptable.
As we move forward with improving public transit for residents, we need to continue expanding our rapid transit system, including a connection with Toronto Pearson International Airport, relief subway lines to help ease the burden on the already overcrowded Yonge-University-Spadina subway line, priorities from across the City of Toronto and support state of good repair. Together, we must also reflect the transit needs of residents, including commuters, in Toronto and across the GGH region.
Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, is currently preparing a funding strategy for their regional transit plan, The Big Move. There are a variety of funding mechanisms that may be considered including the feasibility of implementing road tolls or a regional sales tax dedicated to transit priorities.
This motion requests the City Manager to work with Metrolinx to explore a variety of regional funding mechanisms with officials from across the GGH to achieve these aims. Any funding initiative should be done on a regional basis to mitigate unintended consequences including job loss and consumer avoidance. Ultimately, we want the City of Toronto to have a leading seat at the table with its partners as Metrolinx’s process moves closer to fruition.
Cities like New York already have regional transit authorities that have the ability to raise revenue to support their transit systems. Of course, if we as a city are satisfied with the status quo, a conversation about realistic ways to fund transit projects won’t be necessary.
However, if we truly want a faster, reliable and more accessible public transportation system, we must have the courage to finally create a realistic way to fund it.