Is Sarah Thomson’s vision too bold?

You can say this for sure about Toronto mayoral candidate Sarah Thomson.

It took guts for the Women’s Post publisher to propose a $5 road toll for the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway to help pay for a major expansion of Toronto’s subway system.

Too often I’ve complained that what we need is a bold vision. People should just go ahead with subway expansion if we want to make Toronto a great city. From London to Paris to Mexico City and New York, the one common thread is a great subway system.

But here are some problems that I see with her vision.

We don’t have tolls in Canada, not that should be a deterrent, but you never what the public reaction to that would be.

But in some ways, this proposed road tolls have to be done regionally, across the GTA. If one tolls only the Gardiner and DVP, you disproportionately tax Toronto drivers and those coming into the city daily from, such as Mississauga/Hamilton/Oshawa to help pay for public transit. And one could argue, why should those in the GTA pay for a transit system that wouldn’t benefit them?

Also to note, drivers coming into Toronto daily from say Richmond Hill would continue to do so for free on Highway 400. Where is the fairness in that?

Everyone loves subways in Toronto. Why take the streetcar or bus when you can rely on a subway? Denis Lanoue from Save our Sheppard wants to see an extension of the Sheppard subway line, not the city’s current proposal of LRT. But subway are the most expensive form of public transit and take the longest to build.

At the end of the day, everyone needs to see real improvements in Toronto’s public transit before road tolls will be politically feasible. Sarah Thomson, though she has a great idea, should consider the ramifications of her political platform.


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