Municipal Economics

It is the first principle of that branch of the dismal science we know as municipal economics that as the quality of a service declines those who use it must be charged more. An associated axiom declares that should a service not be declining fast enough on its own, then municipal authorities may enact provisions to accelerate its impairment and, again, raise the cost to consumers of said service.

Buses not running on time, snarly drivers, too few stops — raise the fares on those few who still “take the bus.” New streetcars, ordered at a cost of billions, not delivered — hike the rates. Garbage collection inefficient and spotty, reduce the number of pickups, bring in a frightful eco regime of garbage “sorting” and … charge more. There is no service that cannot be made worse, the rules governing it multiplied, and the fines for improper use grotesquely inflated, while simultaneously raising the costs, direct and indirect, of said service to ratepayers. This is the very core concept of modern metropolitan administration. Perform poorly and less: charge more.

Which brings me to Toronto City Council. This week a study announced that Toronto has some of the worst, wasteful, annoying and stressful gridlock on the continent. It has 10 of the 20 most “consistent stretches of gridlock” in all of Canada. The Gardiner Expressway (the most ironically labelled road in the world) and the Don Valley Parkway (which earns the old joke too well — you park there) are principal offenders. Millions of hours are lost crawling along either; gasoline is burnt with no benefit of forward motion; cars age with idling, and placid motorists mutate into the commuter version of raging werewolves, during the “soul-sucking” drive to and from work every day.

Good Read…

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