How to Clean Up San Francisco’s Dirty Streets

My previous blog post discussed Travel and Leisure’s recent list of America’s Dirtiest Cities.  As I stated at the beginning of that post, I have found San Francisco to be quite dirty with trash and litter in comparison with my previous hometown of Toronto.  While a lot of San Francisco is quite clean, there are definitely large sections that are downright filthy.  While I don’t want to complain about the city’s litter problems, I do want to offer a couple of ideas that I believe could greatly decrease the trash on San Francisco’s streets.  Below is a list of these ideas.  Some of them are more concrete, easy to execute ideas whereas other ones may require more thinking:

  • The public trash cans throughout San Francisco are far too open.  Homeless people can easily sift through the trash in these garbage cans and often end up throwing up a lot of the trash on the ground.  Additionally, if the trash can is full, the wind can easily blow the trash out of the can and into the street and side walk around the can.  The trash cans should be changed to a trash can that must be opened to deposit trash (similar to trash cans you would find at food courts).  In Toronto, for instance, many of the public trash cans would require you to step on a lever to open the top and deposit the trash.  Even when opened, it is difficult to reach into the trash, which would stop the problem of homeless people sifting through the trash and throwing the garbage on the streets.
  • Increase the fines on littering to something very high ($1000?).  This may sound extreme, but it will certainly make just about everyone to think twice about littering.
  • Incent those who pick up garbage on the street.  People get a small amount of change whenever they deposit an empty can or bottle.  Perhaps we could the same with garbage.  For instance, for each full bag of trash someone picks up and deposits to the San Francisco Garbage Collection Services, they would get $5.  While this would cost the city extra money, it could be offset by less need for street cleaners if it turned out to be a successful program.  The only potential issue is that people could abuse the system by simply taking trash from a garbage can to fill up a bag.
  • Give out fines for anyone who leaves out unsecured garbage or recycling to be picked up by garbage collection.  This garbage or recycling needs to either be in a closed bin or tied down so it will not blow away.

Toronto Transit Commissions Takes Stance on Whether to Privatize Toronto Public Transit

For anyone who lives in Toronto and takes the subway fairly regularly, you may have noticed the posters discussing the potential negative outcomes of privatizing Toronto public transit and using Vancouver, Melbourne and London and examples of why not to privatize public transit in Toronto.   You can read the full story in the Toronto Sun article entitled ‘Keep TTC public‘ about the 1/2 million dollar campaign by the TTC to make people aware of why the TTC shouldn’t be privatized.

Well now, it’s time for my rant…

Having moved to Toronto nearly four years ago, I can truly say that the TTC is the worst public transit system I have dealt with.  The ticket prices are astronomical (the price of a monthly pass is double that of Boston’s for example), the staff is extremely overpaid, rude and generally quite lazy, and the coverage for a city of Toronto’s size is abysmal.  On top of this, the subway stations are generally dirty and all of the subways and streetcars are old and regularly broken.  The fact that there has been so many problems trying to get the light rail projects off the ground highlight the TTC’s inefficiencies.

What I find most insulting is the fact that they bring up Melbourne’s public transit system as an example of why privatization does not work.  Most people in Toronto have not likely lived in Melbourne nor have they visited it.  Having lived in Melbourne back in 2006, I can set the record straight that Melbourne’s public transit system is a huge step up from Toronto’s.  The coverage of the transit system is incredible (whereas Toronto has 3 subway lines, Melbourne has more than a dozen).  The prices are reasonable and the trains, trams and buses are both efficient and clean.

So what can I conclude from all this?  Well if Melbourne really is an example of what happens when you privatize a public transit system, then I believe Toronto’s TTC should be privatized as soon as possible.  So thank you Toronto Transit Commission for helping me realize what the right thing truly is to do, but at least we’re not in Memphis Homes,

G-20′s Impacts on a City

 

Well, as the G-20 summit descends upon my current home of Toronto and protests and chaos begin, I wondered  if there are any long term effects on a host city for the G-20.  Typically, an enormous amount of money is spent on such an event and the current price tag for the G-20 summit and the G-8 summit combined (the 2010 G-8 summit is taking place 3 or so hours north of Toronto) is a whopping $1 billion.  One would think that with such an enormous price tag, there would be some kind of long term impacts.I took a look at the Wikipedia entry for the Pittsburgh 2009 summit.  Interestingly, the city was chosen due to it’s economic recovery from it’s depressing post-manufacturing days.  And while the Direct Energy Business greened the city

’s electrical usage during the two days of the summit, there was no information pertaining to the long term effects on the city.
However, one has to believe that such a massive event must have an effect on the future efficiency and effectiveness of the city’s police department for if it can handle something  as chaotic as the protests for the G-20, surely the police force must be better equipped for any possible future protests.  So as Toronto becomes a zoo of protesters over the next couple of days, I hope that the economic and social costs of such an event are outweighed by the future benefits.