In today's Spectator, a letter writer complains about paying for HSR service on their property tax bill, yet having no say in how much that transit levy rises each year. The suggestion is that non-users are paying too much to subsidize transit riders.
In Hamilton, more than half of the cost of the HSR is paid for by transit riders at the farebox. The rest is covered by the overall tax levy.
By contrast, many people in Hamilton don't own a car, yet also pay high taxes every year for road construction and maintenance. Talk about costs increasing more than inflation - the road budget has grown much faster than the transit budget over the past decade.
In Hamilton, zero percent of the cost of roads is paid for by the users. 100% of the cost is covered by the general tax levy - i.e. by property tax.
If this letter writer is suggesting that it's time to change this system, I know many people without a car who would jump for joy at that idea. The way I see it, we have two options to bring fairness to this problem:
Begin to have more than half of road/highway costs covered by the users. There is no farebox, of course. Tolls would be the most common way of recouping this money. Or:
Make transit equal with roads by having 100 percent of the cost of the HSR covered by the overall tax levy.
I've never understood why one mode of transportation is so heavily subsidized over the other. People are all going to work, school and trying to enjoy life in our community, yet we punish those who choose to do so without their own car.
I think I like where this letter writer is coming from. Let's start the discussion.
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