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  #1  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 8:10 AM
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TransLink Proposes Tolls on All Metro bridges & New Vehicle Levy

From the Vancouver Sun's website...

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TransLink proposes tolls on all Metro bridges, new vehicle levy

TransLink is proposing to put tolls on all Metro Vancouver bridges and charge drivers for using the roads as part of a scheme to raise $450 million in new revenue.

Along with these so-called "road-pricing options," TransLink is considering a vehicle levy averaging $122 per vehicle per year.

It's the latest round in a long battle between the regional transportation authority and the provincial government over where TransLink will find much-needed revenue increases.

Without new revenue, TransLink is projected to go into deficit by 2011, as it subsidizes the private operators of the Canada Line and the Golden Ears Bridge for four to five years until they reach projected ridership figures.

TransLink says it needs an extra $150 million a year just to keep its current operations going.

With $300 million a year, it says it could modestly expand the public transportation system, including building the long-promised Evergreen rapid transit line from Burnaby to Coquitlam.

With $450 million more a year, it could finance all the major items on its wish list, including rapid transit lines, rail corridors and a greatly expanded bus system. With no additional money, TransLink says it will have to make huge transit service cuts as its expenses rise.

PROPOSAL NEEDS APPROVAL FROM PROVINCE, MUNICIPALITIES

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast said he was waiting to hear whether the province will provide legislative authority for the road-pricing options, which could see long-haul drivers and gas guzzlers paying more for using the road than drivers on short trips in fuel-efficient cars.

The proposed charges, which would increase the cost of driving in Metro Vancouver, were unanimously supported by the TransLink board but still need approval from the province and the regional mayors' council.

"At the end of the day we have to come up with the funding somewhere," Prendergast said. "It's more than about transit. It's about changing some behaviours. You drive down Hastings, Lougheed, Kingsway ... they're all crowded. The days of the free ride for automobiles worldwide is coming to an end."

The plan must be approved by the province and regional transportation commissioner in August before going to the regional mayors' council in October.

Several earlier attempts to impose a vehicle levy — politically a hot potato — have been dropped.

TransLink and Metro Vancouver have flirted with the notion of tolls, only to be flatly rejected by the provincial government.

Now TransLink is bringing back some of the most controversial options. "It's an issue of livability in the region at large," Prendergast said.

RECOMMENDATION 'UNSUPPORTABLE'

But at least two Metro Vancouver mayors say the recommendations — particularly the vehicle levy — will hurt those who have little means of viable transport: residents south of the Fraser.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said road pricing could work as long as it's done with a policy in place and plans to build up the transit system. Right now, there aren't enough buses to support Surrey residents, she said, let alone another million people moving into the region by 2040.

"The vehicle levy, is for me, unsupportable," she said. "There's no way I can go out to our residents and say, 'You're not going to get anything, but pay an additional property tax and a vehicle levy. You might get a bus or two.'"

Prendergast acknowledges transit service is lacking south of the Fraser. TransLink is working with municipalities to add new routes and increase population density along transportation corridors, but needs money to do so.

TransLink has the ability to collect $275 million extra a year by way of property tax increases, the vehicle levy, boosting gas taxes by three cents a litre, imposing a higher parking tax, and raising fares by seven per cent in 2016.

The road-pricing options would bring the total revenue increase to $450 million, enough to fund the Evergreen Line, upgrade existing SkyTrain stations, buy more buses, build new rail corridors, provide optimum maintenance for regional roads.

But Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said that is just another way for the province to dump costs on municipalities.

Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun
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  #2  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 8:19 AM
deasine deasine is offline
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Why is Derek Corrigan mentioned in every article about TransLink?! For the "review of TransLink/Ferries" article on the Vancouver Sun, he claimed Shirley Bond was just covering her ass. WTF I mean... can the guy shut his trap?

Anyways... like I said, I'm hoping TransLink goes through their own budget before introducing new measures to raise money. I really think an increase in the gas tax is better than the stupid vehicle levy. I don't think tolls are also fair either, unless there is adequate transit close and parallel to that bridge. If that is the case though, I will be avoiding trips to Richmond... I'm hoping the review really does churn out good results.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:11 AM
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I like the idea of a levy, but I HATE tolls and the gas tax.
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  #4  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:26 AM
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Fuel tax and new auto levies only really affect those that drive. In all honesty, they're trying to increase ridership and revenue at the same time, so I can understand an increase (or invention) of taxes to support transit. That said, even though I have my license, I don't drive.

In the TransLink Insider survey's they sent out last month, my personal comment was along with tolling TransLink owned bridges, they should do away with the fare zones, and have the current 2 zone fare of $3.75 standard across the region.
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  #5  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:44 AM
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They should increase the gas tax allot to cover their shortfall and most importantly increase transit fares proportionally. say gas taxes as a average percentage of total gas prices go up 50% than transit fares should go up 50% so there is at least a perception of some fairness.
example: 50% extra tax on gas makes a $1 a L a $1.50 while making a $3 fare $4.5
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:52 AM
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I'd be fine with tolls on Lions Gate if they made it 10 lanes wide.

Hell, even four lanes.
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  #7  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 9:57 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornholio View Post
They should increase the gas tax allot to cover their shortfall and most importantly increase transit fares proportionally. say gas taxes as a average percentage of total gas prices go up 50% than transit fares should go up 50% so there is at least a perception of some fairness.
example: 50% extra tax on gas makes a $1 a L a $1.50 while making a $3 fare $4.5
See, $3.75 for transit is a breaking point for a lot of transit users.

Ignore the commuters for a second. What about the single mother who uses transit as her primary mode of transit? Paying $4.50 each to get on the bus is equal to 1 meal for her child. Now, I understand if her kid needs to lose a few pounds it's okay to skip out on the feeding process, but lets be realistic here. Plus, if you want to increase ridership (which will increase revenue), transit has to be affordable to those that need to use it.

I mean, don't get me wrong, I understand that you're saying that TransLink should increase fares proportional to the increased fuel cost. But, there needs to be a cap set on that. This way TransLink can't suddenly charge $10 one way to go from Metrotown to Stanley Park because gas goes up $0.25/L every July.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 12:33 PM
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Motorists will be equally affected by any service cuts... roads will see less maintenance dollars.
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  #9  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 1:17 PM
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So at a time when Translink is thinking of going distance based for transit fares it's also thinking of introducing zone pricing for cars (that's what tolls are in effect). A better, simpler, most more cost effective method is to increase the gas tax another few cents (effectively a distance based increase).

I have no problem with increasing fares as well, what they should do though, is while they keep the current zone system is increase the time of 2 zone and 3 zone tickets.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 1:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GeeCee View Post
I like the idea of a levy, but I HATE tolls and the gas tax.
I'd argue the opposite. Gas and tolls mean that people who drive more, pay more. Seems fair to me.

Gas tax seems to be the "easiest" since there is already a gas tax. Does anybody know what tax per L would be required for the various levels of funding they want? IE another 5c/L would cover the $450m?
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 2:10 PM
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A gas tax is politically easier and lower cost to implement as well.
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  #12  
Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 2:52 PM
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Originally Posted by twoNeurons View Post
A gas tax is politically easier and lower cost to implement as well.
Exactly - just increase the gas tax - which is far simpler and cheaper then coming up with some crazy road/bridge charging schemes. Plus you don't get into people trying to avoid certain roads just to avoid being charged for using them thus creating congestion elsewhere. Why make things complicared. I think they have proposed this becuase they know it will be flatly rejected by the proviince - who wants to sign off on that crazy scheme?
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 3:18 PM
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I'm in support of both, we need the money. I highly doubt a gas tax raise, instead of a vehicle levy, would be able to achieve raising $100-million+ in revenues like what the vehicle levy would do...unless the gas tax is quite high.

Same goes for region-wide bridge tolling, but only if we see the results of drastically improved transit immediately in every corner of the region. More specifically, a ton of more buses and improved routes south of the Fraser.

Stop hiking fares, they've done that three times in the last decade. We've arrived at the point where riders are having second thoughts about taking transit with these fare pricings.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 3:55 PM
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Translink needs to start living within its means. Contrary with what it seems to believe, there is no endless pot of people to be milked so that Trankslink can live its life of champagne dreams and caviar wishes.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:02 PM
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^ do realize that Translink, unlike other agencies around the world, is responsible for this region's roads AND transit. Not just transit. The road mandate is bound to take up quite a bit it could be spending on transit.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:30 PM
johnjimbc johnjimbc is offline
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Frankly, it seems totally irresponsible to me to add tolls to existing bridges that don't have them. If they need to raise money in that magnitude, add a gas surcharge. The costs of constructing, manning, and maintaining the toll system itself would be outlandish (can anyone say empire-building?). And making traffic worse with tolls on EVERY bridge is just total bull. Seriously, every time you cross the Burrard Bridge, Cambie Bridge, Granville Bridge, Lion's Gate having to pay a toll. That is a non-starter. If you all thought closing a lane on Burrard for bikes would add to back-ups, just wait till toll booths are added at every major bridge crossing. I'm not even sure it's possible to do so - where are they going to be constructed?

Raise the money, yes. But as I've already suggested, find ways to do it that don't add to traffic issues and general driver irritation. Gas surcharge, Auto Levies, etc. But as far as I'm concerned, I'll actively work against any politician who agrees to such a hairbrained scheme on tolls.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:54 PM
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^ I'm guessing you've never heard of ELECTRONIC TOLLING, with sensors (detecting transponders) and cameras (recording license plate numbers) to charge tolls while you drive under the tolling stations at up to 90 km/h. The bill will be sent to you or will be deducted from your account.





Have you even heard of the Golden Ears Bridge? Electronic tolling station at the region's new Golden Ears Bridge, connecting Maple Ridge and Surrey:
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mr.x View Post
^ do realize that Translink, unlike other agencies around the world, is responsible for this region's roads AND transit. Not just transit. The road mandate is bound to take up quite a bit it could be spending on transit.
Then Translink should give the responsibility of road maintenance to municipal and provincial governments and focus ONLY on transit!! And trim all bureaucratic costs and salaries of top execs first before even considering more gas taxes, fare increases etc. What about the power to buy properties around transit nodes? Have Translink done this yet since they implemented this practice?
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:57 PM
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Again I say if you are going to pay to toll the bridge you might aswell toll the whole length of the Number 1 from Abbotsford to Horseshoe Bay or Squamish.
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Old Posted Jul 31, 2009, 4:58 PM
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I don't support tolling on existing bridges either. Gas taxes, done and done.
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