I just finished reading the post story on the Conservatives plan for providing help for public transit - the gist of it being making bus passes tax deductible.
This whole policy is a sham. The best piece I can think of which summarizes the folly of public transit is from P.J. O'Rourke, who wrote:
There are just two problems with mass transit. Nobody uses it, and it costs like hell. Only 4% of Americans take public transportation to work. Even in cities they don't do it. Less than 25% of commuters in the New York metropolitan area use public transportation. Elsewhere it's far less--9.5% in San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, 1.8% in Dallas-Fort Worth. As for total travel in urban parts of America--all the comings and goings for work, school, shopping, etc.--1.7 % of those trips are made on mass transit.Then there is the cost, which is--obviously--$52 billion. Less obviously, there's all the money spent locally keeping local mass transit systems operating. The Heritage Foundation says, "There isn't a single light rail transit system in America in
which fares paid by the passengers cover the cost of their own rides." Heritage cites the Minneapolis "Hiawatha" light rail line, soon to be completed with $107 million from the transportation bill. Heritage estimates that the total expense for each ride on the Hiawatha will be $19. Commuting to work will cost $8,550 a year. If the commuter is earning minimum wage, this leaves about $1,000 a year for food, shelter and clothing. Or, if the city picks up the tab, it could have leased a BMW X-5 SUV for the commuter at about the same price.
It is the same scam here. Shovelling funds - whether it be direct or indirect into mass tranist doesn't solve the problem of congestion - only more roads and more liberal land use laws will fix. Nobody likes taking public transit to work, and throwing money at the TTC and GO train, notwithstanding the folly of doing so, won't change that. Canada has crumbling and congested roads, which have a real economic cost (and don't get me started on how Comrade Bill Davis has ruined Toronto's economic future with cancelling the Spadina expressway back in the 70's).
Harper should know better than to make stupid promises like this. Potential conservative voters do not consider public transit a priority - roads though, that's another story. Cut their income taxes and build roads, lots of nice 8 lane expressways all over the GTA - now you got a recipie for success, considering how everyone complains about how congested the 401 is (which these days is 24-7).