As much as the Drummond report explicitly outlines the transportation and transit challenges facing the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, it offers few actionable recommendations for improving the financial situation of these sectors. Yet, there are a number of useful comments, many of which infrastructure watchers are already well aware of.
Importantly, Drummond highlights the fact that congestion and a lack of public transit options are contributing to economic inefficiencies that currently cost an estimated $6 billion a year and are predicted to cost $15 billion annually by 2031. While he acknowledges that Metrolinx has a long term transit plan, known as The Big Move, Drummond cites the $50 billion cost of the project as problematic because only $11.5 billion has been committed. Further, Drummond correctly notes that because his mandate explicitly excludes the ability to consider tax increases, finding new funding alternatives will be difficult. His recommendation: “review the roles and operations of public and private mass transit service providers in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area…to find efficiencies in those regions’ transportation networks. Act on that evidence to improve the efficiency of those services.”
As well, Drummond notes that because the responsibility for public transit delivery remains with municipalities, efficiency is reduced due to administrative and procedural overlaps. While Drummond has no recommendations for raising substantial funds, he does suggest opportunities for creating some new revenue streams. GO Transit parking lots were highlighted as being a significant cost to the province because the company does not currently charge for parking in any of its lots, despite the provincial and federal governments having recently invested $500 million to increase the number of spaces at GO stations.
His next recommendation is one that many people have highlighted as being a colossal gap in Canada: the lack of a national transit strategy. As Drummond, and dozens of other people, point out, Canada is the only Organisation for Cooperation and Economic Development member country without a national transit strategy and he recommends getting started on that immediately. To further raise revenue and improve economic performance, he promotes using a mix of tools such as High Occupancy Vehicle lanes, local gas-taxes and parking surcharges. Ultimately, Drummond makes it clear that “without clear input from citizens, striking the right balance of these measures will be near impossible.”