National Transit Strategy Bill – final vote on September 19th

Wednesday September 19th is the day on which Olivia Chow‘s bill calling for a national transit strategy has its third and final vote in the House of Commons. In this endeavour she is supported by local MP Mike Sullivan who yesterday along with other NDP MPs delivered a petition to Parliament supporting the bill.

For too long, transportation in this country has fallen prey to the whims and squabbles of politicians at all three levels of government. The result is clearly not good. We end up with projects that are one-off (Airport Rail Link for example) and pet projects of politicians rather than an overall strategy. Instead of thoughtful plans, we have chaos, endlessly long commutes, subways to nowhere and airport links that no-one will use (other than for two weeks in 2015).

Cities in this country lack the funds to build transportation and therefore the majority of funding must come from the feds and the province. We have no unified system in place in Weston and instead, we have severely under-funded and un-integrated transportation. For example, in Rome an all-day pass can be purchased which will allow access to local trains, buses and subways. A single trip on the bus / subway system costs under $2.00 and can be purchased from a machine. Tickets have magnetic striping and (as in most cities) open barriers to entry on the subway but are validated on all other transit modes. Rome is currently constructing a third subway line and planning a fourth in addition to the two already existing along with a streetcar, light rail and bus network.

A national transit strategy will provide a long-term strategy of funding and force integration with all forms of transportation and between municipalities. A reasonably priced, fast and comfortable transit network would coax people from their cars, cut down on gridlock (currently estimated to be $6 billion annually) and improve property values in the outer suburbs of the city.

Unfortunately, the bill will likely be voted down by the Conservative majority and the economic engines that are Canada’s major cities will continue to be starved of oxygen. And guess what folks; it’s our fault for getting conned every time politicians at all levels of government come begging for our votes. As we have seen in the recent provincial election, nothing gets a politician’s attention better than the prospect of sudden unemployment. Instead of politicians telling us what we need, we need to tell them what we want. And we’ll vote to back our demands.

When only 60% of the population bothers to vote, this is the result.