Tuesday, August 26, 2008

TTC looks at cutting out Metropass parking perk - Toronto Star

A lot of buzz is being generated about a proposal at the TTC board to eliminate the free parking privileges that Metropass users have at some commuter parking lots in the city.

While parking is a terrible use of land, and we should be looking at developing over the lots at many GO and subway stations, I have a feeling that this proposal has come a bit too early to be worth the political risk. It's true that most people will reason that it will be less expensive to pay the daily TTC fee than pay the daily parking fee at a private lot downtown, but I believe such a move doesn't address the root cause of people driving to the stations - not enough bus service.

To bring up my own personal experience - again - I live about a 20 minute walk from the nearest bus stop. From there, it is a 20 minute bus ride to the GO station. By driving, the trip takes me 20 minutes flat. There are many people faced with this dilemma, and for most, driving is the most attractive option.

In order to bridge the gap, we have to increase bus service in neighbourhoods to drastically reduce the time necessary to walk to the local stop. This means more GO shuttles, more community bus routes and even the use of mini-buses to handle the narrow streets and to counter the negative reaction some people have towards full sized buses. In addition, we have to install bike racks on all routes, as even a leisurely pace is three or four times faster than walking.

Don't get me wrong, there will be a time when free parking will be a story we tell our children (along with the fact that we could once buy a litre of gas for 63 cents), but we're not quite ready for that time.

For more reading on the subject, check out Sameer Vasta's latest post on Metronauts.ca

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