Funding Regional Transit Expansion: Toronto Board of Trade report advances
'unpopular debate' to fund Metrolinx's The Big Move

Metrolinx requires $2-billion a year for 25 years

TORONTO, May 19 /CNW/ - As part of its VoteToronto2010.com campaign, the Toronto Board of Trade releases The Move Ahead, a discussion paper on the many revenue tool options available to Metrolinx to fund its regional transportation plan.

"The delay and disputes over provincial funding are a distraction from the bigger issue and underscore the need for dedicated revenues to build our regional transit system," says Carol Wilding, President and CEO of the Toronto Board of Trade. "It's a discussion our members - and the broader public - are ready for, but it requires political leadership to advance."

"Transit expansion must be a top priority in this year's municipal election because of its impact on the regional economy," says Ms. Wilding. "It's time that we recognize the real debate and start getting realistic about how we are going to pay for it."

The Board of Trade's recently released Scorecard on Prosperity revealed that the Toronto region's commute times ranked last amongst comparable major international cities, with an average 80 minute commute time. Gridlock is expected to add an additional 29 minutes to this commute over the next few decades (equivalent to three additional work-weeks a year stuck in traffic), and cost the region $15-billion a year in lost productivity by 2031.

In The Move Ahead, the Board outlines 16 revenue tools that can be employed to bridge this funding gap, including a description, relative benefits and drawbacks and where this tool is being used.

These tools are grouped according to the amount of revenue they are likely to generate, including:

    
    -  Large: over $1-billion annually
    -  Medium: between $500-million and $1-billion annually
    -  Small: under $500-million annually

    The Board recommends that revenue tools be assessed on:

    1)  Net amount of revenue the tool will generate; and
    2)  Extent that the tool contains congestion

    The Board recommends the following assessment criteria:

    -  Technical feasibility (demonstrated through successful use in other
       jurisdictions)
    -  Predictability, sustainability and durability of the revenue
       generation
    -  Administrative cost and complexity
    -  Impact on consumer behavior (i.e. extent that the tool encourages
       commuters to reduce congestion through car-pooling or other measures
       that remove cars from the road)
    -  Social equity and fairness

    Examples of revenue tools that could raise up to $1 billion each include:

    -  A dedicated parking surcharge (Currently used in Vancouver,
       Pittsburgh, Pasadena, Perth, Au.)
    -  A dedicated gas tax (Currently applied in US, Vancouver, Calgary,
       Edmonton, Greater Montreal)
    

In November 2009, the Board launched its VoteToronto2010.com website and a discussion paper Vote Toronto 2010: Framework for a Better City. With the The Move Ahead, the Board frames its second campaign theme "Growing the City and Regional Economy."

About the Toronto Board of Trade (www.bot.com)

Founded in 1845, the Toronto Board of Trade is Canada's largest local chamber of commerce, connecting more than 200,000 business professionals and influencers throughout the Toronto region. The Board of Trade fuels the economic, social and cultural vitality of the entire Toronto region by fostering powerful collaborations among business, government, thought leaders and community builders. The Board of Trade plays a vital role in elevating the quality of life and global competitiveness of Canada's largest urban centre.

SOURCE TORONTO BOARD OF TRADE

For further information: For further information: Dorenda McNeil, Counsel Public Relations, Tel: (416) 961-5898 x 216, Email: dmcneil@counselpr.ca

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