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Monday, April 15 2024 @ 07:13 MDT

Calgary is creating it\'s own traffic nightmare.

Calgary PoliticsIn it\'s continuing effort to create even worse traffic jams, the city of Calgary council has decided to raise the transit rates and monthly passes. Now the reason I bring this up is twofold. First is personal, the second is societal. The personal reason is that until now, I generally took transit to work. Apart from the environmental reasons, it saved me some money each month, not a lot, but enough to justify the extra time in commuting. However, the increase in rates tip the costing back to me driving. It\'s now becoming cheaper for me to drive to work. By raising the fairs, they\'re providing quite the disincentive for me to use the service.

Now this leads into the societal issues of raising the rates. It doesn\'t just provide a disincentive for me, but other users of the service. Those in society who have a car and choose to take transit are getting a disincentive as well. So more people will take their cars to work.

It gets worse for those people on fixed or low incomes who may not have a choice. These people depend on transit to get around, but it\'s now that much harder for them to use the service that they depend on.

So why raise the rates? To improve service is the stated reason. Transit in Calgary is currently running at capacity. More buses and trains are needed and a large investment is needed over the next couple of years to improve this. By raising rates two things happen, first, less people will use the service, deferring the need for the investment. Secondly, some more money will come in, though if the reduction in patronage is sufficiently large, this will not happen.

Why such a lag in capacity over civic growth? In it\'s rush to have taxes that rival those in developing countries, the provincial government has starved the municipalities of cash. The result is that we have payed off the provincial financial debt, but have now a huge infrastructure deficit as a result. Transit capacity is a symptom of this. No amount of rate increases will solve the problem, a reinvestment is needed. The problem, from the governing party\'s point of view at least, is that to pay for it taxes may just have to go up. That is difficult to sell for a government who\'s mantra has been cut, cut, cut to a point where it\'s now expected. Now that the infrastructure deficit is catching up with us, the government has a problem. People will want everything they\'ve had in the past, but now don\'t want to pay taxes to pay for it.

So people and the government have to take a good look at what\'s important, low taxes and no services, or a reasonable level of taxation that provides for the services we all need (remember, more people on buses means less cars at rush hour!).
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