Thursday, January 06, 2011

No evidence Conservative transit tax credit boosting transit

Every month I dutifully save my monthly TTC Metropass, and when I do my taxes I tally up the cost (it's currently $121/month in the T-dot), claim it on my taxes and get some of the cost back against my taxes. And stick the 12 passes in a box to save for seven years in case I'm audited.

The Public Transit Tax Credit was one of several similar programs introduced by the Conservatives in 2006. Ostensibly, the idea was to boost transit ridership. However there's no evidence the program is achieving that supposed goal:

Michael Roschlau, president of the Canadian Urban Transit Association, said it’s a great idea to reward people for taking public transit, but the statistics do not show that the credit produced a spike in ridership.

“We have not been able to attribute a direct correlation between the ridership trends and the tax credit,” he said.

The fact the credit was budgeted to cost $200 million annually and, so far, has been coming in under budget, would seem to indicate there hasn't exactly been a mad stampede of people leaving their car at the park and ride, swayed by the tax credit.

That's because a tax credit for riders isn't going to do anything about an underfunded, over capacity transit system. Even if it encourages some drivers to give transit a try, the transit system is unprepared for an increase in ridership so, finding crowded buses and subway trains, they'll be quickly back to their cars.

If the federal government really wanted to boost transit ridership, they'd take that $200 million and find a way of getting more stable operational funding to transit systems like the TTC, so they can improve service levels, build capacity, and offer a more compelling quality of service that will convince people to become regular transit users.

The tax credit is nice for me, but I'm going to be taking the bus regardless. It does nothing to improve transit.

Of course, improving transit service was never really the Conservative goal with the program. Sure, they could boost operational funding and see better transit service as a result. But there's no photo-op or political impact with that. But with a tax credit, you're reminded every year at tax time as the Conservatives try to buy your goodwill with your own money.

Less gravy train, more transit train please.

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Saskboy said...

Regina Transit could use a chunk of that change too, that's for sure.

WhigWag said...

You seem to forget who you're talking to / about: the Censeless, long gunning, fill the prisons with Cons:

'Evidence? We don't need no stinkin' evidence!"

CanadianSense said...

Again you missing the point. It is not about spending money to buy beer and popcorn.

Returning tax payers money is a foreign concept for most Liberals.

If you sign your kid up for music, sports or take a bus you get some money back.

This does not mean Johnny will be playing for the Maple leafs, symphony or boosting sales figures for the TTC.

Mom and Dad got some money back to pay for those tax increase Dalton and Miller kept piling on.

Gas Tax Fund ($11.8 billion) to meet the infrastructure needs of all Canada’s communities. The government has committed to transferring this money permanently.

Ted Betts said...

Wrong, CS. The tax subsidies were about one thing and one thing only.

They were and are primarily about getting votes. Pure and simple. Traditional vote buying with our money.

If it was about returning money to Canadians, they would have cut income taxes instead of raising them when they came into office.

Returning money to Canadians is not foreign to Liberals: Chretien and Martin paved the way and showed Harper how to do it.

Harper instead reversed some of their income tax cuts and decided that working class Canadians should subsidize the lifestyle choices of wealthy Canadians. Poor Canadians have no or little use for tax credits or cuts: they do need affordable daycare and cheap and expanded transit however. Harper though takes their money and gives it people like you and Jeff who would take transit anyway.

Similarly, poor Canadians are paying for - subsidizing - wealthy Canadians sports teams for their kids, retirement savings, tax free savings accounts, etc. Now Harper wants poor Canadians to pay for - subsidize - the pensions of wealthy Canadians instead of fixing the CPP that benefits everyone.

Harper is systematically going around from program to program, not gutting it or getting rid of it like a real fiscal conservative/libertarian would, but transforming program after program into a subsidy program paid by the poor for the lifestyles of the wealthy.

It's doubly apalling: that he is doing it and that the opposition haven't clued into it.

CanadianSense said...


If you can't count sitting days, refer to prorogue as a "threat to democracy" when the other team uses it: your credibility, understanding of parliament, policy is zilch.

As a partisan Liberal Ted the truth and liberals talking points rarely pass a simple reality test.

First two years:

Reduced federal taxation as a share of GDP to its lowest level in nearly 50 years.

Removed 655,000 Canadians from the tax rolls through tax credits and basic personal exemption (BPE) increases.

I could list dozens of small changes that have benefited Canadians as a result of lowering taxation.

I applaud your socialist math in repeating that not making the income producing middle class in paying more in taxes or fees to help the poor is helping the rich.

Your entitlement system of PET-Lewis of the 70's is failing everywhere. The middle class can't afford to pay for your wealth redistribution promises of a socialist utopia.

Look to Europe, US mid term elections and the next federal election why the Liberalism economics is toast.

Stop blaming the leaders and leave Marx, Hegel behind.

Ted Betts said...

Ah, CS, ever the one to quickly try to change the subject and not address someone's point when they prove you are clueless. Ever the one to rant on and on (and on and on and on) about who knows what that has nothing to do with this.

I am a strong free market, low tax, fiscal responsibility advocate, buddy. Haven't seen a fiscally responsible federal government or federal decision in 6 years now. What I don't like is when government screws around with taxes to buy votes. And I don't like funny conservative-math that never looks at the real full picture. You live in neverland buddy. Come join us in reality some year.

When wealthy Canadians who are already using transit suddenly get money back from the government for doing the same thing they were doing the year before, where do you think that money comes from? When wealthy Canadians invest in their child's education and the government tops it up, where do you think that money comes from? Same thing with the porposed pension reform. Not only does this mean more of us subsidizing the wealthy, but it means reduced tax revenue and greater deficits too. Classic conservative math. You obviously must think money grows from trees. Maybe there is more Marx in you - a kind of Bizzaro Marx - than you realized.

It's pretty simple and pretty objective. The Canadian Taxpayers Association - not quite a Marxist think tank - just announced that Canadians will be paying more federal tax this year. One of Harper's first acts as PM was to increase the tax margins for Canadians. He has taxed income trusts. He has increases taxes on airfares. He has increased taxes on small businesses. His GST reductions are meaningless since, as Flaherty himself pointed out once, such cuts are almost immediately wiped out by inflation. Harper tries to tell us how to live our lives by giving little snippets of tax breaks to the wealthy as long as they live like he wants them to.

The Liberals meanwhile cut income taxes, consolidated and cleaned up a myriad of targetted tax cuts, increased the tax brackets, hugely increased the automatic exemption given to everyone.

As always:
Conservatives - for themselves and for the wealthy.
Liberals - for everyone.

CanadianSense said...


I don't have a problem with Liberal pretending they care about the middle class. Their track record speaks volume. Their financial max donors from Bay Street history is evident.

Voters believed the little guy script from Jean. They did not with Dion and won't with Ignatieff.
The plaid shirts and small open mike sessions won't repair the brand party damage or his leadership numbers.

Feel free to ask other long time Liberals like Curran, Kinsella, Kreiber why your party is 1/7 in by elections since Ignatieff took over.

Tax credits work if you have a taxable income so those benefiting are paying into the system.

Sorry Ted your concept of a free lunch and blaming the rich is not working. Blame it on Obama or Pelosi!