Monday, August 26, 2013

Advocates unveil transit expansion plan funded by 0.5% sales tax

Transit advocates Paul Hillsdon, founder of Metro604, and Nathan Pachal, founder of South Fraser OnTrax, have unveiled Leap Ahead, a transit funding plan for the region. Based on over a year’s worth of research, the Leap Ahead proposal provides a clear path forward on stalled transit expansion plans. If implemented, Leap Ahead would unlock $15 billion in economic benefits and provide rapid transit to every part of Metro Vancouver.

In line with regional and provincial priorities, Leap Ahead would fund the immediate construction of significant transit infrastructure including:

  • UBC SkyTrain
  • South Fraser LRT & B-Line
  • Expo Line Upgrades
  • SFU Gondola
  • Marine Drive (North Shore) B-Line
  • Hastings B-Line
  • 41 Ave B-Line
  • Hwy 7 B-Line
  • Hwy 1 B-Line
  • Hwy 99 B-Line
  • 200 St B-Line

The Leap Ahead plan concludes that a 0.5% regional sales tax is the most comprehensive and affordable solution to fund the region’s share of the plan. Voter-approved regional sales taxes have been successfully introduced in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Denver for similar transit expansions. With a 2% decrease in the federal GST and 0.5% decrease in the PST over the last decade, there is room for the proposed sales tax. A 0.5% regional sales tax would amount to just $0.35 per day, per resident.

The Leap Ahead plan will:

  • Provide $21.5 billion in economic returns and produce a net benefit of $15 billion for taxpayers
  • Support 234,000 jobs over 30 years
    • 33 times more than the $1 billion South Fraser Perimeter Road
    • Nearly 4 times more than the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline
  • Expand the system from 65 to 138 rapid transit stations
  • Introduce rapid transit to every part of the region including Surrey, White Rock, Langley, Maple Ridge & the North Shore

“Do not - repeat, do not - junk-click this document,” said Gordon Price who is the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University. “This one you want to read. I've seen enough of these proposals to know that Pachal and Hillsdon and have a pretty realistic sense of what kind of transit system might make sense for our future, and an idea for funding that might have a realistic chance of passage.”

“Whether you care about the future of Metro Vancouver or just the short-term politics of transit funding and referenda, Pachal and Hillsdon have some ideas worth considering,” Price continued. “At this point, they may have the only ideas worth considering, since everyone else seems to be waiting for somebody else to lead. And they have.”

Learn More:

The entire plan, including additional benefits, history, and route maps, can be downloaded from the document archive.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for your work, sad that none of the government agencies have come up with a proposal yet.

Anonymous said...

Great work! However a much better and equitable solution is raising property taxes.

Sales taxes just encourage locals to avoid them by buying goods in the US. Property taxes are much harder to avoid. Even better would be a mansion tax on properties worth more than $500k.

Anonymous said...

Property taxes are high enough and only affect home owners. Sales tax is a more fair and equitable solution that targets all people who buy goods in metro Vancouver. It's nice to see a plan that spreads the cost evenly to everyone and not people who drive cars or own homes. I was always a fan of hst for that reason and maybe had we kept it we could put that 2% to transit. Also houses that are 500k here are not mansions. Nor are houses that are 1 million so that idea is flawed.

Side note: I shop in the states quite frequently but not because of sales tax because of transit taxes on fuel. It you starve a specific group they are going to look for alternative methods to help their bottom line. This approach doesn't do that. For once I am impressed with a plan I've read on transit.

Anonymous said...

Huh? You shop in the US to avoid taxes and then say you think a sales tax is more fair. Why, so you can easily skip it unlike property tax?

Fact is property tax is more fair exactly for this reason. It applies to everyone living in the region and can't easily be avoided like sales tax.

Also property taxes are very low in Vancouver compared to everywhere else.