Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Road Pricing the Future for Metro Vancouver

So CBC News did a poll on what people think about transportation infrastructure and how they are willing to pay for it. As was evident in our recent municipal elections, there was no backlash or “punishment at the polls” for mayors that voted to improvement transit in our region. In fact, our region seems to be willing to have a mature conversation about implementing a user-pay system to pay for our roads and transit.

CBC News asked the questions “What will help reduce the time spent on the daily commute?” The majority of Metro Vancouver residents said that transit improvement will reduce congestion and only 26% of residents thought that building more roads will reduce congestion. Also interesting is that the majority of residents would consider not driving if public transit was improved.

What I found really interesting is that only 41% of people in Vancouver think that “my local government has enough money to pay for road and public transit improvements”, yet 79% of people think that “I pay enough taxes to cover the cost of maintaining roadway infrastructure and building new roads / bridges as needed”. This either means that people are willing to pay for more public transit and not new roads, or that people don’t want to pay with taxes and would rather go to a user-pay system.

When given the option of how to pay for improving transit infrastructure people thought that the federal government should be paying its fair share which isn’t happening today. Barring that in Vancouver, a congestion charge (variable road tolling) or just road tolling was the preferred way to pay for transit and roads. Only 33% of Metro Vancouver residents do not support the concept of tolling.

I think that South of Fraser mayors like Peter Fassbender who are taking about road pricing to pay for transportation are on the right track as people don’t want to be tax indirectly for it. I certainly hope that our region's mayors can find a solution to pay for improving transit and getting rapid transit out in the South of Fraser.

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