The Gomberg for Mayor platform plank on Transportation
Toronto’s transportation network is vital to the quality of our lives and to the strength of our economy. Unfortunately, short-sighted urban planning, trendy marketing, automobile subsidization and provincial downloading has left almost 75% of Torontonians feeling that they cannot live without a car. This is reflected in the fact that 9 million car trips are now made each day in the Greater Toronto Area, a number which is expected to increase to 14 million car trips by 2019. As a result, our transportation network has become more unsafe, more congested, increasingly polluted, and, with urban sprawl, much more costly for the public purse to maintain. If we continue on this road of automobile dependence, Toronto’s economy, environment and quality of life will get much worse while our property taxes will multiply.
Crashes, Safety & Health
Car and truck crashes kill almost one hundred Torontonians each year, more than half of which are pe-destrians and bicyclists. These fatalities outnumber murders by a three to one ratio which clearly indicates that car deaths are just as serious a social issue as crime in this city. No less important are the injuries that 30,000 citizens endure annually. According to the Toronto Board of Health, a further 1,000 deaths and 7,600 hospital admissions result annually from poor air quality largely attributable to automobiles.
As Mayor, I will help save lives and decrease car related injuries by:
- reducing speed limits to 20 km/hr in school zones and residential streets, 30 km/hour on arterials and 60 km/hr on highways
- fast-tracking the installation of red-light cameras at all major intersections
- supporting innovative efforts of neighbourhoods to calm traffic on residential streets
- implementing the Regional Coroner’s 1998 recommendations on cycling fatalities
Land Use Planning & Congestion
After almost 50 years of catering to automotive and developer interests, politicians and land use planners have left many of us unable to access the things we want and need unless we own a car. Over 40% of The City of Toronto is now paved with more than 5,300 kilometers of roads dedicated to the private automobile leaving those without a car (26% of Toronto households) at a major disadvantage. By making simple transportation policy and infrastructure changes, the City can influence driver behaviour, diminish traffic congestion, reduce car dependence, minimize impacts on public and private property, create jobs, improve air and water quality, reduce economic and social impacts, and prevent urban sprawl.
As Mayor, I will help create a much more livable city by:
- introducing alternate-day driving restrictions
- spearheading a road building and road widening moratorium
- setting aside one lane for high occupancy vehicles where appropriate
- commencing a long term urban development plan which emphasizes brownfield and mixed-use de-velopment, multi-use town centres and high density along connecting corridors where transit has funding and operating priority Sustainable Transportation
Sustainable transportation refers to moving people and goods in cleaner, greener, healthier, safer, more equitable ways, and, where appropriate, not moving people and goods. Transit, walking, cycling, efficient goods movement systems, telecommunications, car sharing and car pooling are the major components of a sustainable transportation network. A recent study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that the wealthiest cities in the world consistently have the best sustainable transportation networks. To ensure that Toronto is at the top of this list, transportation investments must be reallocated to sustainable transportation facilities so that citizens of all ages and abilities can utilize them.
As Mayor, I will:
- create a new City Sustainable Transportation Department to oversee Transportation Services, Urban Planning and be linked directly to the departments of Health, Finance, and Parks and Recreation
- implement priority bus lanes and streetcar signals
- increase funding for the TTC by $15 million a year, so that service and fares can be restored to 1990 levels
- expand transit coverage into all areas of the City
- planning, designating and building light rail transit (as opposed to subways) on several existing thoroughfares (e.g. Lawrence, Eglinton, Lakeshore)
- fund GO Transit in fair proportion to population and travel requirements in conjunction with the regions
- install sidewalks and, in appropriate places, cross walks, where there are currently none
- create pedestrian-only spaces for shopping and entertainment
- giving political support to the comprehensive cycling master plan so that on-street bike lanes, off-street bike paths and safe bicycle parking facilities are expanded
- provide generous incentives to businesses to create sustainable transportation partnerships so that they play a strong role through employee programs (e.g. bicycle user groups, bicycle parking and showers, green fleets initiatives, human powered delivery, integrated mobility systems, car pooling) and general corporate responsibility related to transportation
- work with school trustees to implement a sustainable transportation education for primary and secondary schools students along with their parents Paying for Safe and Sustainable Transportation
The cost of the car to society is far too high. While many citizens demand lower taxes, it is unfair that public dollars subsidize each car driver to the tune of $3,000 annually. Much of this subsidy is due to the $3 billion in social costs (for health and medical care, police, emergency services, environmental and property damage) that must be paid by the public purse when car crash fatalities and injuries occur. Lost time resulting from crashes is a serious blow to our city’s productivity. By tipping the balance in favour of sustainable transportation, people will reduce their dependence on their vehicles thus saving hundreds of lives and millions of tax dollars annually.
As Mayor, I will provide economic incentives and disincentives to driving by:
- lowering transit fares
- establishing toll systems on all city-owned highways
- implementing user pay fees through roadway congestion pricing, revenue based parking fees
- dedicating revenues generated from automotive fees to transit and other sustainable transportation projects, as well as basic road improvements.
The cause of traffic-related deaths and injuries, traffic gridlock, lost productivity and decreasing quality of urban life is simple: too many cars. All of these problems would disappear within twenty years by phasing in measures to reduce the number of cars over the next five to ten years. By making the above policy and infrastructure changes, Toronto will be a much safer and richer place in which to live during this new millennium.