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General Road and Highway Discussion
I suppose that this would also mean that childless families aren't "subsidizing" families with children who attend school, because the teachers who wouldn't be teaching without children to teach give the government back a huge chunk of their salary in income tax, and then a ton more in sales and other taxes, the parents pay for children's clothing, daycare, piano lessons, baby food, and all sorts of "clearly intended for children" activities, and both the direct HST on those transactions, as well as the created income taxes and HST from only-because-children-exist jobs should cover the costs of what we perceive as the subsidies to parents. -_-*
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(07-13-2017, 08:32 AM)ijmorlan Wrote: I agree that other tax revenue should go down, ceteris paribus; on the other hand, the government itself does not need or want tax revenue. ... I will agree that many governments have a bias towards new program spending rather than tax reductions and I think I would agree with you that the default use of any “windfall” should be tax reduction or debt payment.

Yeah, I'm not making any judgements of greed or anything like that.  Just saying that if we're no longer paying for a service through general revenue, that money should be returned to taxpayers (logically, maybe not actually in practice) and then as a separate matter deciding if additional services are actually worth offering.  Mostly my point is just one that we should decide on the services a Government offers (+ debt reduction) and then fund those, versus figuring out how much money the Government is collecting and then spending that money on services.

(07-13-2017, 08:32 AM)ijmorlan Wrote: Let’s take an example: I benefit from the highways because my bread arrives on a truck that takes the highway.

OK, but I pay for the bread, and what I pay has to cover all the expenses associated with making and delivering the bread. This includes the highway used to deliver it. If the highway really provides a big enough benefit to actually be worthwhile, that should be reflected in the affordability of bread, even if the delivery truck has to pay for the road the same as they pay for every other input into the bread-providing process. Nobody says that I benefit from the ovens used to cook the bread, and therefore the general public should pay for big ovens.

The same observation applies to every other use of the roads: if something truly beneficial depends on the road, it can afford to pay for the road. If it can’t afford to pay for the road, that suggests that it is a marginal activity that possibly isn’t actually demanded sufficiently to need to exist.

The biggest objection I see to the above is essentially related to economic inequality: economically speaking, the merest whim of a billionaire (say, $100,000 worth of stuff) is worth more than an entire year of a poor person’s life (way less than $100,000 spent on all purchases, including life-necessities such as food). But even here, instead of saying that poor people should be able to use roads for free, it makes more sense to say that they should get some money for free, and they can decide whether to spend it on roads or on something else.

Essentially, the bottom line is that by providing free roads, we as a society are deciding for everybody that they will spend their money on roads. I believe in giving everybody individual choice to the greatest extent feasible, and that definitely includes deciding how much to spend on expressways.

You're missing a couple of things though:

1. There is very large and intangible social value to the movement of people.  Not to get too political but lots of problems in the world are caused by people being in their own bubble and not actually being exposed to different people / experiences / etc.

2. There are Government services that rely on the highway network.  Ambulances.  Fire.  Police.  Public Transportation.  Etc.  I guess we could toll those, but it seems silly.  And it still wouldn't really cover the benefit.  The mere existence of a highway network can save us from building additional hospitals, improve health outcomes, etc.  These are benefits that aren't particularly correlated with the amount of miles driven.  Instead they exist as soon as the infrastructure exists.

3. Related to 2, there are really large network effects related to highway infrastructure.  It enables a whole lot of economic activity that otherwise wouldn't be possible or profitable.  Everyone benefits from that.  Which is very different than a bakery going in (it still has economic spin-off benefit, but not on the same scale as something like transportation).

4. I don't have a 4.  Smile  But those are just off the top of my head, I'm sure there are a lot more.

(07-13-2017, 08:32 AM)ijmorlan Wrote: This is a bit like saying that everybody should have enough food to live, but if you want caviar, you’ll be paying for it, and it’s expected that some people won’t be able to afford caviar.

I disagree that this is the same thing.  The caloric value of food is the same (roughly) for each person.  So its generally easy to make a distinction like this.

It's not true for roads.  A 4-lane highway from two northern Ontario towns is very different transportation service level than a 4-land highway between KW and Toronto.  It's silly (to me) to use the physical size of the road and ignore the actual context of the road.
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I believe we do toll these things, like Zum using 407, or how we ticket police officers who run red lights (I believe if they fail to stop to ensure cross-traffic has stopped, before going through a red light).
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Interesting Christopher Hume article from this week:


Why traffic jams are a good thing
https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/07...picks=true
“Despite what most of us believe, however, congestion is a sure sign of a vibrant city. Congestion is good. This isn’t to say that traffic flow can’t be improved — it can — but the idea that congestion can be eliminated is misguided at best, hubristic and destructive at worst. Congestion is the price of urban success. A city without congestion is a city no one wants to live in or visit.”
 
“We have wasted decades and continue to fall behind because of political interference, bad planning, an outdated governance structure and social attitudes that see transit as the mobility equivalent of subsidized housing.”
 
“Local congestion is good for business; it signals the presence of people, money and activity. Regional congestion, by contrast, implies the opposite.”

Everyone move to the back of the bus and we all get home faster.
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I'm kind of struggling with understanding that article and in particular the difference between local/regional congestion.

The best solution to both is public transit.  There are lots of places around the world where there isn't significant local congestion because living w/o a car is much more common and accommodated.  Business served by a strong regional and local public transportation network can thrive quite easily without local car congestion.  Often removing local congestion entirely (through banning cars, removing parking, encouraging bike/pedestrian friendly alternative etc.) can actually help businesses.

“Local congestion is good for business; it signals the presence of people, money and activity. Regional congestion, by contrast, implies the opposite."  

I really don't see how these are opposites.  I especially don't see how you're getting lots of "good" local congestion w/o any regional congestion.  They're related.  Downtown Toronto isn't going to be packed with cars unless those cars are coming from someplace else - and it doesn't really make sense to me that its just coming from local areas.  They're mostly coming from places that need to also use regional connections.  And nobody is taking regional mass transit into downtown Toronto just to grab a car and drive around the area.  If anything more people drive on the regional roads, park somewhere convenient, and then use public transit to get to the 'locally congested' areas.

Looking at Waterloo, it often feels like most of the "local" congestion is just congestion related to the feeding into of 85 and the other main routes into/out of the city.  

It also seems to miss that we generally want both regional and local "congestion" at least some of the time because it means we haven't completely overbuilt our infrastructure (not to mention its almost certainly not possible to avoid congestion in a lot of situations).

Am I just missing something?
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I disagree with the article.

Congestion = loss of productivity or quality of life. Disney figured this out in its theme parks - originally, people thought "big lines = yay, lots of people, I must be making money!", but no - because they're stuck in line, not spending money. So, Disney invented free virtual queuing (FastPass), available to all guests - so they can be out spending money instead of stuck in line. It's a win-win.

I don't think you can just cross your arms, close your eyes and nod your head up and down in satisfaction and go "Yup, this is great" at hundreds of thousands of people stuck in traffic.
For daily ion construction updates, photos and general urban rail news, follow me on twitter! @Canardiain
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(07-15-2017, 03:08 AM)Canard Wrote: I disagree with the article.

Congestion = loss of productivity or quality of life.  Disney figured this out in its theme parks - originally, people thought "big lines = yay, lots of people, I must be making money!", but no - because they're stuck in line, not spending money.  So, Disney invented free virtual queuing (FastPass), available to all guests - so they can be out spending money instead of stuck in line.  It's a win-win.

I don't think you can just cross your arms, close your eyes and nod your head up and down in satisfaction and go "Yup, this is great" at hundreds of thousands of people stuck in traffic.

What I would say is that it is an unavoidable consequence of a densely-packed, attractive place to be — even pedestrian areas can be congested if they’re popular enough — so it can be evidence of something good. But it’s absurd to call congestion itself good.

However, just because it is bad doesn’t mean the obvious response of widening the road is correct. If a road is congested, that means there is insufficient capacity for the people who want to use it. That in turn is at least in part because there is no fee for using the road, so people use it whether or not they actually need to. But if a large capacity expansion is warranted, that can be had for much less cost by building rapid transit. A 4-lane road where 2 of the lanes are LRT tracks has an unbelievably high capacity, way more than twice the capacity of a 2-lane road.
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After reading about the consultant selection for the EA and design Lancaster between Victoria Street to Bridgeport Road I confirmed with the region that, "a grade separation at the railway will be one of the options considered" even though that is not evident in the staff report (i.e. "A preliminary assessment of deficiencies within the project limits has identified a need for full depth road reconstruction, traffic signal modernization, intersection turning lane reconfiguration, railway level crossing improvements, construction of cycling facilities and sidewalks, trunk watermain replacement, and local storm, sanitary sewer and watermain repairs. ").

I hope they will consider the grade separation option. If Lancaster St W is rebuilt in the next few years as a level crossing, the opportunity to convert it to a grade separation will likely be lost for at least 30 years, likely many more, resulting in, slower train trips to and from our community, large delays for EMS/police/fire/GRT/snow removal, delays for motorists and other road users, and greater potential for serious crashes.

I understand that with having two recent grade separation projects, Weber and King, one of which is still underway, there may not be much public patience for similar projects, but these delays and potential consequences will grow exponentially once GO train service becomes much more frequent in coming years.

With the awarding of this contract the EA process is only beginning so much for opportunities to comment on the preliminary design.

Some fully separated bike lanes would go a long way to starting to make it easier to cycle from the Bridgeport/Eastbridge/University downs/lexington/colonial acres neighbourhoods to downtown Kitchener and beyond.
Everyone move to the back of the bus and we all get home faster.
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I would very much support a bridge for Lancaster, combined with closing the St Leger level crossing. This would be a significant positive impact for both road and rail traffic.
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(07-12-2017, 08:36 PM)tomh009 Wrote:
(07-12-2017, 06:44 PM)p2ee Wrote: 2)  Every time a car is sold and then re-sold, there is the HST that has to be paid.  A cheaper new car with $20,000 value generates $2600 in taxes, not to mention the taxes generated on the re-sales.  That tax revenue is not being considered and is probably at least $500 a year on average.

As Dan points out, this is a sales tax so not really relevant.  In addition, you pay it only on the incremental value of the purchase ($20K new car with a $10K trade-in generates only $1300 in sales tax).

 Actually, the sales tax is relevant because the funds go into government coffers and are used for what ever the government feels is necessary. Whether it be for hospitals, education, public transportation, affordable housing or roads.

 Don't forget also, that the car that gets traded in for $10,000 to a dealership is likely to be sold again. Let's say for $12,000 - $15,000.  HST will be again collected on that amount ( $1,560.00 to $1,950.00 in this example ) and every other time that same car is bought and sold.  If that car changes ownership 3 or 4 times during its lifespan that's 3 or 4 times that sales tax is collected.
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