Thursday, June 10, 2010

Bone-Headed Move By Toronto City Hall – What Else Is New?

Local politicians sometimes – correction – often – act first then deal with the consequences of their thoughtless acts later.

Take city officials in Canada’s largest city as a case in point. Yesterday, City of Toronto council voted in a new controversial anti-idling bylaw, which will now cost the city thousands of dollars to enforce on its own city-run transit system.

Toronto has had an anti-idling bylaw for years, prohibiting drivers from letting their vehicles idle for more than three-minutes, else they get a hefty fine.

The new anti-idling bylaw is stricter, prohibiting drivers from letting their vehicles idle for more than one minute – sixty-seconds – else they get a hefty fine of $125CDN.

Cutting the legal time limit down to a mere minute for idling won’t green the planet any more – well maintained vehicles spew most of their toxins on start-up. So forcing drivers to stop and then re-start their engines may actually cause carbon dioxide levels to go up, instead of down in the long run, especially on short stops.

Though restricting idle times will discourage motorists from letting their vehicles sit for long periods of time – which is a good thing.

Where things get sticky for the City of Toronto is for its transit system. Prior to the new anti-idling law, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) was fine with the three-minute anti-idling regulations. But under the new minute policy, they could face fines and/or mechanic bills in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Today, TTC spokesman Brad Ross explained why the city’s bus drivers can’t comply with the city’s new law.

"Heavy diesel engines such as buses, (and) tractor-trailers need at least three-minutes to cool down before we shut a bus off. If we don't do that it will damage the engine, particularly the turbos within the engine, and when you damage those you're looking at about $8,000CDN per engine," Ross explained.

Ross says the TTC asked for an exemption from the new bylaw, but council declined that, because of complaints they received from residents about idling buses.

So what happens when the new bylaw is implemented?

Will TTC bus drivers get ticketed? If they do, chances are the City of Toronto itself will have to pay those tickets, which seems like the cat feeding the rat.

Or will TTC bus drivers obey the new bylaw, and in the process kill their bus, at a cost of $8,000CDN to fix?

Just another act now deal with it later bone-headed plan by politicians that failed to think things through.

If City of Toronto politicians really wanted to do some environmental good, they’d create policies and laws which discourage vehicle use during peak rush hour times in the city – like London, England has done.

In the United Kingdom, aside from emergency vehicles, buses, taxis and delivery vans, you can’t drive in London’s downtown. This curbs traffic congestion, by forcing people to take more environmentally-friendly options for urban travel – such as walking, cycling or taking public transit.

Now that plan really does clean the air.

So how about it Toronto – do you really want to make the world a better place?

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