Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Tax deductible transit

Much criticism has been levelled at the Tory Government's decision to use climate change money for the tax credit on monthly fare passes. Some would prefer this money to go directly to the transit authorities. There are however reasons tax deductible transit is a good idea.
  1. In Toronto, Metropass use is now cheaper than bulk tokens for a Monday - Friday commuter. For GO Transit users this is already true.
  2. Now you've actually got a Metropass, this means you might use it when otherwise the choice is a taxi or car - now there's no incremental cost and it's more responsible in climate terms.
  3. If you don't use Metropass out of commute, you are giving TTC about $7 more a month (yearly plan) or $15.75 more with the booth purchased pass than you used to, assuming 40 tokens/month @ 2.10 each bulk price. In the yearly plan, the $91 the TTC gets is actually only about $77 from the commuter and $14 from government which is returned to the commuter at the year end.
  4. The more people using passes, the easier it will be to transition to smart cards as people are already used to it.
The system still needs capital investment outside of this but encouraging off peak use improves load factors throughout the system but doesn't really funnel too many into the peak - if you didn't like public commuting before (and can afford downtown parking) it's probable this tax cut isn't enough to change your mind. As for GO Transit, hopefully some better off-peak/weekend service will arrive before too long, and some money to extend GO further into the Tory heartland would be useful too (and good politics).
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