Poll Position: Paying for Transit
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Poll Position: Paying for Transit

Torontonians reject new revenue tools to pay for building transit.

The Toronto Board of Trade has recommended the following formula for regional transit financing: a one per cent regional sales tax, coupled with a $1 per space parking levy, a 10 cent per litre regional gas tax, and a 30 cent per kilometre high-occupancy vehicle lane toll. Do you approve or disapprove of this transit funding plan?

Approve: 30%

Disapprove: 52%

Don’t know: 19%

Approval rating among residents of…

Toronto and East York: 45%

North York: 24%

Etobicoke and York: 24%

Scarborough: 21%

Poll taken: March 19, 2013
Sample size: 1,045
Margin of Error: +/-5%, 19 times out of 20
Methodology: Interactive voice response telephone survey
Conducted by: Forum Research [PDF]

NOTES: Transit advocates and a few politicians have been arguing for years that the only way Toronto will get better transit is if we implement dedicated revenue tools—taxes and levies and other uncomfortable things—in order to fund an expansion of the system. On Monday the major organization representing business interests, the Toronto Region Board of Trade, not only reiterated its support for that policy in principle, it laid out a detailed plan for how we could proceed in practice. After considering more than two dozen options, the Board landed on four revenue tools in particular that it thinks Toronto should pursue, and explained why in a detailed report. In a poll taken just a day later, Torontonians’ initial response is to remain unpersuaded, with only 30 per cent actively supporting the plan.

“Talking about our congestion has become a regional obsession. So too has been avoiding real solutions,” said Carol Wilding, the Board’s president, when she introduced the plan earlier this week. Public campaigns to build support for anything that involves paying more money inevitably take time and a great deal of effort. Even if they aren’t on board yet, Torontonians can expect to hear many more arguments in favour of new revenue tools soon: Toronto’s city council will make its own recommendation to Metrolinx later this spring, and Metrolinx itself will issue a strategy to pay for a planned $34 billion in transit expansion at the end of May.