No butts about it – Toronto road tolls is a good idea

Premier Kathleen Wynne’s flip flopping to a position of not supporting road tolls in Toronto has basically undermined Toronto’s ability to fight congestion in a real and palatable way.

Just a few months ago she clearly stated she would support the regulatory changes requested by the Mayor to make tolling a reality. Can you smell the election coming?

Instead of supporting the road tolls the Liberal government now plans to increase funding that municipalities receive from the provincial gas tax. The reason stated for this decision was that the transit infrastructure could not support the additional population now wanting to take transit, as a result of this change.

There is a problem with this logic however. Giving the city more money for transit does not change the behavior of drivers. It really just makes it better for those already taking public transit. This is not the sea change the city really needs to fight congestion.

Here’s an analogy.

If you want someone to stop smoking, you don’t focus on making nicotine gum taste better. You make smoking more difficult, usually by making it more expensive or harder to acquire. By doing so you also make smokers pay for their own programs.

The fight on traffic congestion in Toronto needs to take the same approach. Making driving more expensive will stop people from driving because it will make it more painful. Those currently driving will actually look to the alternatives, many of which they may even yet be aware of, because the change has made driving noticeably different than its original resting state.

New alternatives such as UBER, Bikeshare Toronto and Rover Parking are now real options for drivers, especially commuters. Using Rover for example, combined with any of these new options, including the TTC, allows for people to park outside the congestion and make their way to and from their final destination outside of their own vehicle.

More on this type of initiative can be seen via a program from Rover called  Radius Parking.

Once this type of behavior is realized by a mass amount of people its great for the city because it takes the cars off the roads where the congestion is the heaviest, while allowing other transportation solutions to support the change. It does not put all the weight of “program support” on just public transit infrastructure.

Yes the transit situation in Toronto needs to get better, but until the taste of driving is a lot worse, moving butts out of cars just isn’t going to happen.