Saturday, November 17, 2007

Letter in Transit

A great letter in today's spectator:
Transit is part of our infrastructure

The Hamilton Spectator

(Nov 17, 2007)

Re: Hamilton Street Railway

Hamilton needs to start seeing the entirety of the transit system as infrastructure, as being in the same category as bridges, sewers and roads. If we can do this, we can eliminate the false argument that putting money toward transit is subsidizing transit users while building and maintaining roads is creating infrastructure and jobs.

Efficient and comfortable public transit is an incredibly cost-effective way to fuel investment in our communities. Development blossoms around bus, streetcar and tram routes and in turn increases the cost effectiveness of the whole system, creating more opportunity for expansion. Transit use reduces road use, wear and congestion and is also thus intrinsically linked with the concerns of drivers.

One possibly contentious but more equitable and sustainable way to fund the transit system is to reduce or eliminate the discrepancies of the area rating system currently in place. This system of property taxation is based on the myth that drivers paying tax for transit in areas without transit service is a subsidy, while transit users paying tax for roads without transit is helping build infrastructure for everyone. In both cases, taxpayers are supporting transportation alternatives that they have no ostensible access to and neither should be seen as a "subsidy." It is, simply, the government providing means for its citizens to live and work in a vibrant and diverse city.

This is how society is meant to function; we all put a little of what we have in and receive a little of what we need in return, regardless of whether we stand to gain from all the ways our taxes are spent. People who chose not to, or cannot, own a car are in exactly the same boat as people who choose not to, or cannot, live within walking distance of public transit.

While I am not a regular user of public transit, I encourage the mayor, city council, and city staff, as the new Red Hill Valley Parkway opens, to work with the same energy and enthusiasm to make Hamilton's public transit system as robust, efficient, and noteworthy as its recently augmented road network.

1 comment:

Myrcurial said...

This letter was brilliant, but what should be noted as well is the snide commentary on the bus bike racks just below this well articulated piece. Too many "native" Hamiltonians need to drop the damn victim card... some of us moved here specifically to live a life of less impact and I for one am glad that I'll still be able to get on the HSR on monday at 6am, gleefully avoiding the car yet again.