Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Opponents of Mayors' Transportation Plan using wrong numbers

It’s one thing to have a discussion about the pros and cons of a proposal based on the facts. It's another, when one side isn't being honest.

The problem with the discussion around whether citizens in Metro Vancouver should vote to increase the PST by 0.5% to pay for $7.5 billion in transit and transportation improvements is that, while the proponents of the plan must stick to the facts, the opponents of the plan are twisting the truth and actually using untruthful information.

The opponents of the mayors’ plan to improve transit in our region are using fear in a bid to scare people into voting against this plan. One of the ways they are doing this is by telling people that the plan will require each and every household in Metro Vancouver to pay $258 per year. This is simply not the case.

The opponents divided the $250 million per year required to fund the plan by the 967,948 households in Metro Vancouver to arrive at their figure. How PST works in BC is more nuanced.

PST is paid for by businesses, visitors, and residents. The amount of money that a person would contribute to fund the mayors’ plan is proportionate to their income.

Average PST increase paid by households in Metro Vancouver if transit plebiscite passes. Select table to enlarge.

In Langley City, the median household income is $50,231 and the average income is $61,288. Langley City households would pay an average of $100 per year.

Surrey’s household median income is $67,702 and the average income is $82,780. Households in Surrey would on average pay between $100 and $116 per year.

The median household income in the Township of Langley is $76,947 and the average income is $91,875. Most households in the Township would pay on average between $116 and $166 per year.

While people in Metro Vancouver will be paying more PST, they will actually come out ahead. Investing in improving transit and transportation will saving people time which they can spend with their family and friends. It will also allow many families to reduce automobile costs, saving anywhere from several hundred to thousands of dollars per year.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for passing the correct info along.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate the correction on the records - always best to be well-informed.

However, it's still the case that Translink could come up with this money themselves by reducing waste and slashing their CEO's laughable 400,000 salary.

I'm all for the benefits of this transport plan - but the evidence tells me that money can be found within the system, not from us.

Nathan Pachal said...

Please read this post: Referendum Myths: "TransLink Is Wasteful"

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest hurdle for the "yes" side, is that people aren't necessarily voting against improvements, but against Translink. It needs to be made abundantly clear that this money will not be going into Tranlink's pockets. The funds required for infrastructure will be controlled by the Mayor's, Translink will be no where near the 7.5 billion. While I agree that Translink as an organization is a mess, there's no going back at this point. We need the money now, to address and prevent future problems. The amount of time required to overhaul Translink, and then start saving for these initiatives is wasted time, and the projects will be delivered too late, if at all.
Ideally we'd see the funds controlled by the Mayors through this tax to develop new assets to serve the region, as well as an audit and in required overhaul of Translink. (Which regardless if it's needed or not should be done in the interest of PR)

Kyle Zheng said...

I'm not quite getting it.
Using the numbers to calculate the total sum of money contributed by households, I get $120,780,551.

Does this mean that tourists and businesses pay the other $129,219,448? I know the PST is an embedded tax, yet that number seems astoundingly high for businesses to pay.

I believe that the $250 million figure was from a report. How did it get 250 million in the first place?
One way is if you divide the total PST revenue (6.2 billion/yr) by the percent of population in Metro Vancouver, which gives you 220 million/year.

I can't seem to make the numbers line up.

Nathan Pachal said...

When Paul Hillsdon and I wrote Leap Ahead - A transit plan for Metro Vancouver. We got the $250 million based on this letter.

Kyle Zheng said...

If you look at the actual source that that letter cites, it gives a value of (page 157) of 440 to 460 million in 2008 for a 1% increase in HST. Therefore, a 0.5% increase would raise 230 million in 2008, or ~252 million today.

That is the only source I can find, so we really can't conclude that 35 cents a day will generate 250 million. Still, I'll try to ignore the lack of relationship, and treat them as separate facts.


Nathan Pachal said...

The 35 cents a day thing is based on the average $125 per household, per year.