Friday, July 31, 2009

TransLink wants your money

I am a big fan of road-pricing. You can read previous posts about the concept. The basic idea is that roads are a limited resource and should be priced accordingly. Driving during peak-hours would be charged at a higher rate than driving off-peak. Road pricing has been proven all over the world to help control congestion. Also, the revenue from the pricing should be reinvested back into maintaining our current infrastructure and building transportation options.

Anyway, TransLink is proposing both a vehicle levy and road-pricing. I think that a vehicle levy will be a political hot-potato just because it seems unfair. In reality though, the $122/year levy would only add between 0.8% and 1.5% to the total operating cost of a vehicle. For political buy-in, TransLink will have to commit to providing more than just bus service to the South Fraser. Taxing people out in the SoF to pay for transit in Vancouver would be wrong and unfair. I like the following two quotes from an article in the Vancouver Sun:
"At the end of the day we have to come up with the funding somewhere," Prendergast said. "It's more than about transit. It's about changing some behaviours. You drive down Hastings, Lougheed, Kingsway ... they're all crowded. The days of the free ride for automobiles worldwide is coming to an end."

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said road pricing could work as long as it's done with a policy in place and plans to build up the transit system. Right now, there aren't enough buses to support Surrey residents, she said, let alone another million people moving into the region by 2040.

"The vehicle levy, is for me, unsupportable," she said. "There's no way I can go out to our residents and say, 'You're not going to get anything, but pay an additional property tax and a vehicle levy. You might get a bus or two.'"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Road pricing makes a lot of sense, but it's difficult and expensive to implement.

The alternative is a variable rate vehicle levy. In several American cities the value of the car is the only factor used to determine the levy.

I propose a multi-variable levy based on vehicle price, fuel efficiency, emission class and, most importantly, insurance class.

A vehicle insured for driving to/from work or school is likely to be driven during peak hours. One insured for business use is likely to be driven a large number of km per year in the urban region. Both should pay a higher use levy than someone whose vehicle sits at home most of the time and only goes to the store a few times per week.

All the factors should be weighted. It's possible that the owner of an $11,000 subcompact that's used only part way to work would wind up paying less than the owner of a Lincoln Navigator insured for pleasure use only.