Thursday, April 18, 2013

TransLink Road Network and Bridge Funding

All this week, I’ve been looking at statistics from TransLink’s 2012 Year-End Financial and Performance Report, and the most recent Metro Vancouver transit ridership statistics from the American Public Transit Association. The last thing I want to briefly look at in today's post is road funding.

In 2012, TransLink collected $38.9 million in tolls from the Golden Ears Bridge, $335.3 million from fuel tax, and $53.7 million from parking rights tax. That is a total of $427.9 million that TransLink collects directly from the operation of motor vehicles.

At the same time TransLink spent $216.8 million on roads. One of the largest expenses is the Golden Ear Bridge which cost TransLink $78 million in 2012. Similar to transit, only about 50% of that bridges costs are recovered by direct user fees. The rest of the road expenses were for maintaining other TransLink bridges like the Knight Street Bridge and Pattullo Bridge, and contributions to help maintain the Major Road Network.

I know that some people believe that the TransLink fuel tax is nothing more than a tax grab from motorist, but the reality is that for every 17 cents that TransLink collects from fuel tax about 10 cents get spent directly on roads and 7 cents goes to pay for transit services. If you consider that in the much smaller Victoria region, they pay 3.5 cent per litre in fuel tax for transit and have less service, TransLink’s fuel tax isn’t too crazy and that doesn’t even consider the benefits that transit brings such as getting people out of congestion.

One final item.

As you may know, TransLink’s next big road project will be the replacement of the Pattullo Bridge. I don’t know where TransLink will get the money to pay for the project (hopefully not from money that could be used to improve transit service,) but they have launched a website about the project jointly with New Westminster and Surrey. You can sign up on the website to receive updates and get invitations to consultation meetings. It should be interesting to see how this joint process goes because New Westminster does not want to see any capacity expansion on the bridge while TransLink and Surrey want more lanes.

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