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Top 3 Reasons Your Commute To Downtown Could Be Costlier And Harder

Frank Jing, Business Development & Brand at GoParkr

If you live in the Greater Toronto Area and drive to work, you should be aware of the upcoming changes that could make your drive significantly more difficult, especially the parking.

1. Metrolinx/Go Stations planning on reducing its free public parking spaces

Metrolinx is looking at ways to reduce the number of parking in its recent release of climate change strategy. Metrolinx is planning on growing its ridership without having to also build large parking lots, this, in turn, provide the city of Toronto huge financial gains.

The Ontario’s Climate Change Action Plan includes municipalities lowering the minimum number of parking spaces while providing new investment opportunities for transit projects. Municipalities have historically enforced parking minimum. Donald Shoup, an economics professor at UCLA found that removing parking minimum would reduce the parking spaces by 98% while removing parking maximum would reduce the parking lots be 2%.

Nevertheless, even in Toronto, a 42-story highrise condo with zero parking spots was recently given the green light for construction. The condo will provide only 9 car-share rental spots and 315 spaces for bicycles instead of the traditional 140 parking spots based on city's parking minimum policy.

“We know from the experience of other jurisdictions that phasing out minimum parking requirements encourages more car-sharing, more transit, more active transportation like cycling and walking,” Glen Murray, Minister of Environment and Climate Change said in an interview.

“Remember we’re also putting a lot of money into expanding LRT lines, subways, and GO service. We’re putting about $200 million into cycling infrastructure.” Murray argues in defense of the impacts of reduced parking lots.

Currently, Metrolinx provides approximately 70,000 parking spaces throughout its 63 stations, with most lots being free of charge (some driver can reserve a small batch of spots for a flat rate of $90 per month). In comparison, Toronto’s GreenP only has about half the number of parking spaces Metrolinx provides, at 35,000 spaces, and charges for every single spot.

2. Go Stations looking to discourage all-day parking

Metrolinx chief planning officer Leslie Woo says Metrolinx has no immediate plans to start charging for parking, but is looking at ways to discourage all-day parking, and useful ways to attract riders to use other means of transportation to get to the GO stations. Woo says that massive parking lots are both devastating to the environment and inconvenient to the customers who often have to walk long distances to the station from their cars, which in turn defeats the purpose of driving.

Although Metrolinx officials are also concerned that it is possible that a portion of the commuters will try their luck driving to downtown Toronto, when faced with expensive or unavailable parking around GO stations.

“That’s what we’re trying to address, for different reasons — including the fact that if someone decides not to get on the train, it’s not just bad for the environment and road congestion, it’s also a loss of revenue for us.” Says Woo.

3. Toronto privatizing GreenP public parking. No More $2.50/Hour parking in downtown Toronto.

In the city of Toronto, the cost of a monthly parking is already not cheap at $332.38 per month on average. This pricing for parking is on the rise, and mayor John Tory has considered increasing city's revenue stream by selling off the city-owned assets such as GreenP off-street parking, especially the ones located in the most expensive parts of the Toronto downtown core. However, privatizing parking public parking lots comes with consequences as well, In 2008, Chicago privatized the city’s parking authority and effectively made future transit improvement more difficult, making the city pay Wall Street for every parking space removed.

The Toronto councilors are well aware of the Chicago event and the likelihood of its consequences repeating North of the border. Although Mayor John Tory has told the press that he has not taken any stance on the parking tax proposal, it still be discussed at the Toronto city council’s executive committee meeting next week.

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Author: Frank Jing, Business Development & Brand at GoParkr