Monday, January 25, 2016

Latest data shows border traffic, Canadian dollar, fuel cost linked

In December 2013, I posted about US-bound passenger vehicle volumes at Lower Mainland border crossings. I was looking to see if there was a strong correlation between carbon tax, TransLink fuel tax, and people driving to the US. I didn’t find a strong correlation.

With the crash of the Canadian dollar over the last few years, I wanted to see if that influenced US-bound passenger vehicle volumes based on the most recent data available.

The first chart looks at US-bound passenger vehicles entering through Blaine, Washington compared to the average noon exchange rate.

US-bound personal vehicles entering at Blaine, WA tracked with average noon CAD->USD exchange rate. Select chart to enlarge.

There is a strong correlation between US border traffic and the Canadian dollar’s value.

How does US-bound passenger vehicle volumes correlate to the average cost of fuel in Metro Vancouver?

US-bound personal vehicles entering at Blaine, WA tracked with average retail price of fuel in Metro Vancouver. Select chart to enlarge.

As you can see, there is also a strong correlation. The interesting thing to note about this though is that the Canadian dollar and value of oil are tied at the hip.

Regardless, there has been a massive decline in the value of that Canadian dollar, and around a 25¢/l drop in the cost of fuel. This is more than the current 17¢/l TransLink fuel tax and 6.67¢/l Carbon Tax. So whether it is the weak Canadian dollar or plunge in the cost of fuel, tt is clear that the taxation on fuel in Metro Vancouver isn’t driving people to cross the US border.

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