Friday, January 5, 2007

You won't like taking the bus, but you'll be made to like the alternatives even less

Why is it news to the London Free Press that one of its regular speed-dial opinion stooges and inveterate progressive environmentalist Sandy Levin backs the LTC's $105 million plan to engineer increased ridership on its transit system? On the contrary, Levin's stance is absolutely predictable and, most conspicuously, no more relevant than that of any other taxpayer…

Contrary to the first media-friendly appearances of the plan, its objectives depend much more on artificial disincentives than incentives. Missing from reporter Joe Belanger's account of the plan in yesterday's Free Press are items from the LTC's Long-term Transit Growth Strategy report that articulate an explicit and comprehensive commitment to using the city's financial and regulatory assets to punitively engineer Londoners' transportation habits. The report is dry reading, but a cursory overview finds that the plan requires extensive submission and consideration of the plan's ambitions into political decision-making for the city's land-use and zoning policies that include, for example, targeting high densities for future development as well as limiting the parking supply downtown to discommode automobile travel. In fact, the short-term objective of the LTC's recommendation for a Comprehensive Parking Strategy is to achieve "No Net Gain" for the downtown parking supply, with long-term objectives to "reduce the downtown parking supply" and to "increase the price for off-street parking…" In recognition of — and some apparent remorse for — the fact that the city "has insufficient control of the supply to set market conditions and is unable to tax or otherwise apply surcharges to the cost of parking," the report recommends not only using zoning bylaws to restrict the availability of off-street parking and "increase the rationale required for extending temporary Zoning for surface parking lots, recognizing their impact on the transportation network, not just the business needs of the applicant"… while somehow at the same time making the claim that reducing parking downtown "would support downtown retail businesses." Moreover, long-term commitment to artificially high price-fixing suggests to the report's authors that the city move to "increase its ownership and control of the downtown parking supply, allowing it to make operational decisions that are consistent with its long-term policy objectives." Tell me again how this plan is going to cost only $105 million?

The casualties of the LTC's plan, if it is adopted in whole, will be, in order, taxes, convenience, and the market's ability to respond to consumer demand in housing. But downtown London will certainly be its first fatality.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

way to kick the Freeps' butt. Levin was not news...I'd be surprised if the reporter even read the LTC paper.

Arthur Majoor said...

I am dissapointed.

When I spoke to Mr Ducharme during the election campaign there was no talk of assuming control of parking, land use and zoning restrictions or any of the other add ons.

The idea of "Bus Rapid Transit" is sufficient on its own (people don't ride the bus mostly because cars are a faster mode of transport, express BRT service reduces that disincentive), using regulatory force to alter people's transit habits will result in a hostile and indifferent bus service mopnopoly, similar to the unfortunate experience of people flying Air Canada.....

I was right in my initial assesment when creating a campaign platform; we need to have a London Transit Corporation, not a "comission", in order to achieve worthwhile improvements in transit service for the city. taxpayers. Mark yo0ur calendars for 2010!

MapMaster said...

Note the date on the report: May 2006. None of this was secret to Mr. Ducharme at the time you spoke to him.

Anonymous said...

The report comments on the increased ridership provided by forcing university students to have bus passes. Perhaps the LTC can extend their enlightened parking strategy to UWO and Fanshawe. Eliminating all but handicap parking space from their campuses. This will create a joyous car free zone and dramatically increase ridership. Not to mention all the additional campus space that will be available for new academic buildings. It might even allow the LTC to justify providing 24 hour service during exam time.

Peter K. said...

that is a great idea! The university is far too crowded with fume pumping death machines. Imagine the extra room the campus would have to build bike lock up areas as well as bike lanes all over campus. Unfortunately too many campus capitalists would 'suffer' from the lack of income stolen from students via parking enforcement... its not like tuition decreases are result of that multi-million dollar scandal.