Today’s reasons to hate public transit in Toronto

27Jun06

Warning: Bitching ahead.

Yesterday I caught a little flak about being five minutes late for work a couple of times last week. I didn’t catch any flak for the couple of times I was five minutes early or the couple of times I left five minutes late, so it seems kind of small-minded to just focus on the tardiness. What difference does it make, especially considering that I don’t even do anything before noon anyway? But, resolving to make sure I was nice and early, I left the house ten minutes early to make sure I caught an earlier bus to work.

However, when I got on the subway, it decided to take nice long pauses of a few minutes at a time at both Chester and Sherbourne stations, and it never did reach peak speed when it did decide to move. It just crawled along at a leisurely pace. I ended up missing that early bus by a couple of minutes. But the fallback position wasn’t so bad: Just take my regular bus and get to work right on time (plus or minus five minutes). Except then some transit guy in a hat and a raincoat showed up with a clipboard and announced that my regular bus was going to be five or ten minutes late. Thanks to the combined poor showings of the TTC and Mississauga Transit, I left early and still arrived late. This was very frustrating.

When I checked my e-mail, Tyler had sent me some information about the Conservative government’s new tax credit for public transit. This just made me even more annoyed. Because I use both the TTC and Mississauga Transit, I buy the GTA pass every week. However, after originally promising to give the tax credit to holders of all transit passes, the government has decided to honour only monthly passes. For the sake of convenience alone, I’d buy a monthly GTA pass if it were available because I hate waiting in line every week, but it’s only offered weekly, so I can’t get the tax credit for using the GTA pass. This isn’t fair. I’m using passes year-round.

If I were to buy a monthly Mississauga Transit pass for $92 and a monthly TTC Metropass for $99.75 ($91.50 if I take advantage of the discount plan by signing up for a year at a time), that would come out to $2301 for 12 months ($2202 with the discount). At 15.25%, the non-refundable tax credit would be $350.90 (or $335.81), deductible from my tax otherwise payable.

On the other hand, I usually get the GTA pass about 48 weeks a year, at $43 per week, which comes out to $2064 annually. At 15.25%, that’s a tax credit of $314.76 I’m not getting. If the GTA pass were monthly and the 12-month cost were equal to the 52-week cost, I’d be paying an annual cost of $2236 per year and getting a tax credit of $340.99. I think that’d be pretty fair, but right now, it’s not to be.

I called my Member of Parliament and the TTC about this one. At my MP’s office, a worker took down my complaint and promised to pass it along, but even if he does, my MP is merely a member of the opposition, and I expect little to be done. The guy at the TTC didn’t know of any plans to either apply this tax credit to the weekly GTA pass or start offering a monthly GTA pass that would qualify, but mentioned that the new regional transit authority is rejiggering fares across the GTA, so the matter should be cleared up by 2007.

Of course, that doesn’t help me now, and now that I’ve crunched the numbers, I’ve realized that it’s more cost-effective to get separate Mississauga Transit and TTC passes every month—as long as I take advantage of the TTC’s 12-month discount plan—than it is to get the GTA pass 48 weeks a year, let alone 52. Plus, I’d get the tax credit. So unless the government changes the rules to accommodate weekly passes (which it should) or the new regional transit authority starts offering a monthly GTA pass with some kind of significant discount attached, that’s the way to go come January.

Once I finally got those phone calls taken care of and got ready to settle in at my desk, the lid popped off my coffee cup and I spilled hot java all over my desk again, which caused me to drop the MF-bomb really loudly. I’d like to blame that on the public transit system too, but thus far, I’ve been unable to find a direct link.



2 Responses to “Today’s reasons to hate public transit in Toronto”

  1. Stop, you had me at hello.

  2. 2 Marlene

    Was this a coffee that you got in a refillable cup at work, or bought at a coffee shop? Either way, those lids don’t always go on properly and any anxiety (due to the ordeal with the transit system, for example) could cause you to put the lid on hastily and thus spill it easily. I think it’s quite clearly the fault of the transit system.

    You kind of lost me in all your math stuff and I had to skim over to where there were no more numbers. It was stressing me out and I was too worried about spilling my juice due to my increased heart rate.


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