Categories
Brampton Roads Transit Walking

Why transit users shouldn’t beg to cross the street

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With consistently high ridership growth over the last few years, Brampton Transit has proven to be one of the Canada’s greatest transportation success stories. The Flower City has proven that transit can be successful and popular in North American suburbs.

Despite the success at improving transit and building ridership, Brampton has also prioritized motor traffic at intersection, making it unnecessarily difficult to cross the street at major bus stops. The intersection of Vodden and Main Streets, just north of Downtown Brampton, illustrates this problem.

If the beg button is pushed in time, the walk signal to cross Main Street will appear for just seven seconds before the countdown begins, giving just 11 seconds to cross five lanes. Anyone who misses that light will have to wait over two minutes to legally cross.

What Brampton — and cities like it — should do is remove the beg buttons at transit stops with the assumption that pedestrians will want to cross. It’s just one step towards building a transit culture and attracting new riders.

I write more about this problem in Bramptonist.

 

Categories
Brampton Politics

Why Brampton’s property taxes are high — and what it can do about it

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To effectively reduce its residential property tax rate, Brampton must diversify its tax base

It’s budget time for most municipalities in Ontario. Unlike cities elsewhere in the world — where municipalities can levy income, sales, and payroll taxes — places like Toronto, Ottawa, and Brampton rely on property taxes for most of their operating revenue, and they are complicated.

Toronto homeowners enjoy the cheapest property tax rates in the Greater Toronto Area, too low in fact to properly support city services like transit, housing, or adequate snow clearance.

Meanwhile, Brampton has some of the highest property tax rates in the city. A typical house in Brampton whose assessed value is $800,000 would be levied $8,284.73 in property taxes in Brampton. A similar house in suburban Scarborough or Etobicoke might be worth more, but the taxes on a house accessed at $1 million would be just $6,355.10.

While freezing property taxes might be popular, it isn’t a sustainable solution to high property taxes. A property tax freeze means that the city will not collect any additional tax revenue, regardless of new development or higher property assessments; unlike income and sales taxes, property tax revenue does not grow with the economy. Commercial and industrial property tax rates are higher, but Brampton doesn’t have enough of either land use compared to housing.

Brampton’s property tax issues are structural; tax cuts or freezes will not help. Having a diverse tax base, like Toronto’s, is a better solution, but it won’t be easy. I explain more in Bramptonist. 

Categories
Brampton Infrastructure Transit

What GO Transit service to Brampton might look like without the freight bypass

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VIA and GO trains meet at Brampton Station

In 1967, GO Transit launched a new rail service between Pickering and Hamilton. The new commuter train service was made possible as GO just built a new freight bypass so its trains could avoid Downtown Toronto and connect to a new sorting yard in Vaughan. Today, trains on the Lakeshore Line operate as frequently as every fifteen minutes during weekdays, and every half hour on weekends. Unfortunately for Brampton, that freight bypass built in the 1960s runs right through its downtown core, limiting the number of passenger trains that can serve Brampton, Guelph, and Kitchener.

Last December, the provincial government cancelled plans for a new freight bypass that would have diverted CN trains from a critical section of track in Brampton, allowing for frequent GO and intercity services. Around the same time, a new GO Transit schedule resulted in extreme overcrowding and extended delays on the Kitchener Line. As population and ridership grows, there are few answers and little promise of relief that the freight bypass would have provided.

In my debut article for Bramptonist, I comment on the future of the Kitchener Line, the only GO line serving Ontario’s fourth largest city and an important commuter link to Guelph and Kitchener-Waterloo. What can Brampton expect now that the freight bypass is dead?