Thursday, July 23, 2009

Light Rail and Taxes

I overheard an interesting conversation on the 595 bus the other day between Walnut Grove and the West Coast Express. Two business types where talking about whether it made sense to drive to the West Coast Express or take the bus. They didn’t like the bus very much (lack of Air Conditioning, etc.) which didn’t surprise me. The two people decided to take the bus because of the toll, plus parking at the WCE station would "add up pretty quick."

There are two lessons to be learned from this little story. First, most middle and upper income people will not take a bus and do not like buses. They will, however, ride rail based transit. Second, tolling and paid parking affects people’s travel patterns. What does this mean for the South Fraser?

First, we need to get building light rail now. If we ever want to shift people in a meaningful way to transit, the bus ain’t gonna cut it. As was proven in the last US election, people in eight major city actually voted to tax themselves for light rail. Second, the region must look at congestion tolling and parking pricing measures to encourage people to think about taking the transit that is available. Of course, we need to build the transit before we start pricing.

It was interesting to read an article in the Georgia Straight about the province’s refusal to help TransLink.
However, to the disappointment of mayors like Port Moody’s Joe Trasolini, B.C. Transportation Minister Shirley Bond has said that TransLink has to make do with its current funding sources.

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