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Free parking!

Well, not quite. You’ll still have to shell out the 12 bucks to park in a downtown lot. But plans to tax off-street parking have been shelved, for now at least.

It’s about time someone stopped the madness. Parking is already expensive enough without adding even more tax.

Parking spaces rake in $600 to $700 a year in hidden taxes, said Pierre Cléroux of Groupe Urbain, a coalition of businessmen who, backed by the chamber of commerce, oppose the tax.

“A supplementary tax on parking spaces is not justifiable – and for us it’s unacceptable,” he said. “For a person who has a monthly parking space in Montreal, 40 per cent of the cost is (already) taxes.”

Environmentalists and city planners usually advocate raising taxes on gas and parking as a means of discouraging people from driving and encouraging them to switch to public transit.

But I take serious issue with that. I’d love nothing more than to be able to leave my car at home – or sell it – and use a reliable, efficient public transportation system instead. It would save me money on gas, insurance, and maintenance, as well as the headaches of rush hour and the concern about drinking and driving, just to name a few reasons.

The trouble is, that reliable, efficient public transportation system doesn’t exist. Not for us suburbanites anyway. Our buses are few and far between and we don’t have a metro. Commuter trains are only convenient to people going straight downtown and back, and only at peak hours. My daily commute to work – maybe 75 minutes round-trip, even in traffic – would take well over 4 hours by public transit. Efficient? Hah!

The carrot-and-stick method of persuasion only works if you offer a carrot; namely, improved public transit. Until that happens, the government can wield the tax stick all it wants, and people will keep driving. We simply don’t have a choice.

{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Peter 12.19.02, 1:58 AM

    Have you ever been to New York?

  • segacs 12.19.02, 2:45 AM

    Yes, why?

  • Peter 12.19.02, 7:03 AM

    The parking there is quite a problem.
    Also, getting in and out of the city
    can be horrendous.

  • Geoff 12.19.02, 12:56 PM

    Yeah, but at least in NYC, the subway system is pretty extensive: you can get to Manhattan from either Queens or Brooklyn. The Montreal Metro however, while pretty good for where it covers, is rather limited in scope. Taking public transit from somewhere like DDO, which is about 10 miles (if that) from downtown, would take over an hour, while driving takes 20 minutes.

  • segacs 12.20.02, 5:35 AM

    What Geoff said.

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