International Transit Policy – Implement it locally!

When Canadians travel abroad, we are more than happy to hop on public transit to get to wherever we need to go. Perhaps it’s because we feel it’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to get from Point A to Point B, or that it’s the best way to immerse ourselves in the new culture around us.  Why then are we so opposed to improving public transit in our own cities?

Public Transit in Ottawa shared a great series the Globe and Mail ran about traffic and public transit in Canadian cities, and the “psychological gridlock” Canadians have when it comes to improving our public transit systems. Included is a Slideshow suggesting a few ways our public transit systems could be improved, such as:

  • Implementing a smart card for public transit and other city services
  • Introducing congestion pricing on highways
  • Building more subway systems

Smart cards have been put in place here in Canada and all over the world, in cities such as London, Hong Kong and Kingston, Ontario. If the card were implemented in more Canadian cities, it would help facilitate transit usage for more Canadians. Smart cards could also be used to pay for other municipal services, such as museum entrance fees or parking.

Congestion pricing on highways is also a consideration. However, it needs to be implemented carefully. If more people are going to be using public transit, the capacity of our public transit fleets needs to be improved to ensure that a surge in ridership can be handled.

Subways are a great way to get around many major cities, such as New York, London, Toronto and Montreal. They can also be a great source of funding for a city. When  properly planned and operated, the subway can be a great public-private partnership.

These ideas can help Canadians buy in to public and alternative transit as realistic ways to get around their cities. Canadians need to overcome this psychological gridlock and take a look at the many cities and municipalities around the world that have been able to improve their transit systems and consider implementing some of those ideas. Change can be a great thing. We just need to be open to it.

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