I read David Harrison's blog and his comment about Durham Region Council's unwillingness to pay for transit improvements out of property taxes. This is something that needs to be changed. The recent and future cuts to local transit are the direct result of the twenty-eight members of council. When it came to cuts in service, (they call them service adjustments) there is nothing in the Transit Executive Committee minutes of the November 28, 2007 meeting indicating, any councilors spoke up to protected transit users. At the January 9, 2008 meeting transit staff responded to several questions by members of the Committee with respect to customer concerns regarding transit service route adjustments and reductions, specifically R/M10; M3 and M26. The General Manager, Ted Galinis advised that 57 customer concerns have been received to date.
At the November meeting staff was asked to provide the Committee with information on what percentage of Durham Region’s budget is allocated to transit and what portion of other Region’s budgets are allocated to transit. What a coincidence!
The Sustainable Urban Development Association
(SUDA), has done a recent survey of property taxes across the GTA. They found that Durham Region spends just 2.74% per cent of its property taxes on public transit. SUDA found the highest investments in public transit were in Toronto and York Region, where the percentage of property taxes in support of transit operations were 6.61 and 5.26 per cent respectively.
It's unfortunate but no follow up was forth comming at the January Transit Executive Committee meeting about what potion of Durham Region’s budget is allocated to transit. Was it too embarrassing to bring it up? Maybe they did not have enough time. After all the meeting only lasted twenty-two minutes.
Regional Chair Roger Anderson calls for more provincial and federal funding for public transit. This study claims that Durham Region is not spending enough on public transit.
DRT is a very young transit system of only two years old. It does not need any cuts in transit service. In order to have a transit network, top performing routes should be allowed to support other lower performing routes. These routes feed the base network and connect communities. There should have never have been such a drastic cut in service such as the M-26 Duffins mid-day. Perhaps an extension of the flag bus into the area would have worked better. Durham Region Transit truly needs a transit champion on Region Council.