Monday, December 12, 2005

Better Spent on Beer & Popcorn?

Toronto area highways are instituting H.O.V. lanes as a way to help ease traffic congestion. When I first heard the news I got excited because I thought it meant they were creating lanes specifically for hovercraft vehicles -- but I was wrong. H.O.V. stands for “High Occupancy Vehicles” -- now why couldn’t they just have called it a “car pool” lane so that everyone would know what they meant?

I write this post from one of the highest occupancy vehicles of all, the GO Train. Which leads me to the belief that the whole H.O.V. lanes thing will not really ease congestion all that much. I think that, like the recent flip from one way to two way streets in downtown Hamilton, it’s just a lot of tax dollars wasted. Especially if it’s based on the honor system, because how would you monitor and control it all?

Besides, the minute you put someone behind the wheel even the world’s nicest person become a selfish, self-centered prick. Stick him behind the wheel of a Hummer on the Toronto-bound 403 between Burlington and Oakville at about 8:30 AM and suddenly Gandhi morphs into Genghis. Drop Mother Theresa into an SUV on her way to volunteering at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hamilton, and by the time she navigates the idiotic intersections at James Street Sout, St. Joseph's Drive and John Street South you’ll hear enough foul language spewing out of her vehicle to embarrass Richard Pryor (God rest his comedic soul).

If our government wanted to ease traffic congestion and perhaps even put a little bit of money back in the pockets of those who could use it the most, I don’t know why they haven’t tried to make public transit a tax deductible expense.

Think about it. Public transit serves an important community need and is better for the environment -- the more people use public transit the more money gets injected back into it and the more it can continue to improve to serve the needs of the riders. That makes public transit more desirable for some, and for others, who have no choice but to use public transit, perhaps it makes the services even better for their needs. In a nutshell, the more people on buses and streetcars and subways and trains, the less vehicles on the road, which eases congestion, and, of course, doesn’t hurt our air quality.

This could be done at either the provincial or federal level, of course, and something that is eased into. Perhaps they could start with making 30% of public transit expenses tax deductible the first year, and then move towards an end goal of 50% to 75%.

But what do I know? I'm just one of those idiot voters who'll end up spending my tax savings money on beer and popcorn.


Bob said...

So true Dude. Vancouver has had these HOV for some time, and the traffic is worse than anything on the QEW during rush hour. It's almost comparable to the 401 stretch North of Toronto, except that one moves more.

Rainypete said...

Me too!! I love my beer and popcorn too!

I think people need to get over themselves when it comes to public transit. Most that I know wouldn't ride the bus since they think it's like some sort of slight against their image. Who cares how you get from a to b right? Personally I admire the person with enough brain to not blow buckets of cash on a set of wheels that they could live without.

Virginia said...

I so agree about making public transit a tax deductable expense! Especially the dang ferry on Vancouver Island. (Don't have to deal with it anymore, but still harbouring resentment.) A trip can cost an extra $100 just for the ferry costs.

I attended Cascadia Con in Seattle in August, my first visit to the city. We, with three in the car, took the car pool lane. Us and three or four other people. During rush hour. It was the craziest thing I've ever seen. 99% of vehicles in the five or six lanes of traffic had one person in them. They may have strict fines because no one was abusing the empty lane.

Franny said...

I don't think the car pool lane will work. My husband works shifts and it's impossible to find someone willing to commute with him during his strange hours that change every week.

Also, with my $1200 childcare bonus I could buy myself 720 bottles of beer or pop myself 1800 bags of popcorn (300 bags if I buy it at the theatres). Oh what a great year it's gonna be!

Anonymous said...

As a taker of public transit on more than one occasion, I can easily attest to the need for more funding. Anyone who's had to take the bus (or the cattle car as I call it) to the university first thing in the morning would agree with me. Because of lack of funding, the number of buses is severely low for the amount of users. We're herded like cattle onto this bus that because of over occupancy, has now become a potential death trap. Add colder weather and extra clothing into the mix and you have a cold and flu epidemic on your hands.

If they put money into the transit systems like they put into a useless "car pool lane" (my friend says it's slower than the regular lanes), we'd all ride in style and without stress to wherever we had to go.

(And I don't drink beer, but I'd splurge for carmel popcorn with nuts instead!)

Mark Leslie said...

Rick Mercer recently posted an online petition to get politicians to stop being so down on beer. Another one of his fun petitions.