Transit viewed wrongly, as are our streets

Transit services are a public amenity, not a business undertaking

Re: Higher ridership key to ending financial woes (Letters, Oct. 10)

Robert Jones suggests that ridership is essential to curing our transit woes. I agree.

Our problem is that we view transit as a business – to be financed, regulated and taxed like any other. It is not. Like our water and sewer, like our public streets, it is a basic amenity of our lives. And while a modest user fee will serve to remind us that there is a cost, we should support transit primarily through our taxes.

We need better, simpler, easier systems of payment. I have seen in Scandinavia that most users have some sort of pass: annual, monthly or shorter term. These are even readily available for tourists. Cash payments are made, yes, but it is also possible to buy tickets by cellphone.

Along with this, we need to treat our streets as if they were revenue producers, with a fee-for-use by our cars either added to our tax bill as residents, or our license fees as non-residents.

I grant this implies tracking our movements, but that should be a minor intrusion to improve our streets, reduce congestion and encourage us into alternate transport. As it is, our cars are simply too cheap not to drive.

John A. Laidlaw

Victoria

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