The Joy of Being Taxed : or why downtown businesses should love public transit

Why do Downtown businesses hate public transit? Business associations in many cities are on record opposing everything from bike paths and bus lanes to pedestrian boulevards and increased parking prices.

Columnist Gary Mason had a good piece in last Saturday's Globe & Mail about the joys of riding new, comfortable and well designed public transportation -- and the reasons that businesses should learn to love public transit. It's a personal account of the difference the new Canada Line has made in his morning commute the gist of which is summarized in his title "Bring on taxes - if they help transit grow."

His points are fairly simple: prioritizing transit over car traffic (which means spending the money needed to build the necessary infrastructure) is a win for everyone. Commuting times are shorter and more enjoyable, the environmental impact of transit is less and businesses benefit from people having easier access to the downtown core.

Here's a short excerpt:

"The business coalition opposing the tax is cutting off its nose to spite its face. As it is, 40 per cent of people coming downtown each day come by transit. The money collected from the tax is going to pay for improvements to transit so people can go downtown in greater numbers to spend money at the stores of those businesses opposing the tax.

As one planner put it to me, the degree to which the businesses are acting against their own self-interests is breathtaking."

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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

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