“Mayors” recommend gas levy to pay for Evergreen Line

Mayors recommend gas levy to pay for Evergreen Line.

Port Moody Evergreen Line Station

Rendering of Port Moody Evergreen Line Station with adjacent West Coast Express platform (image from BC Ministry of Transportation)

The Province of BC has recommended a 2-cent gas hike for the Fall of 2011 to raise $40 million in funding for TransLink.  I say the province instead of the mayors because the mayors did offer other alternatives to the gas hike.  The Province newspaper’s headline is misleading.

The mayors offered up taking money from the carbon tax and the vehicle levy as a couple of alternatives in previous meetings with the Minister of Transport, Brian Lekstrom.  However, the minister says that those funding methods require changes in legislation.  However, I think they would be better alternatives.

The BC Liberals made the carbon tax revenue neutral.  Revenue neutrality has a nice ring to it, but the carbon tax could be so much more.  Moving money from carbon intense activities to fund carbon-low or carbon-free activities just make sense.  Transit projects in general qualify as carbon-low.  The carbon tax could help fund new capital costs like the Evergreen Line.

Then there’s the vehicle levy.  This was one of the original funding tools proposed when TransLink was created.  However, the BC NDP government of the time feared public opposition and canned the idea.  I still like the vehicle levy.  Think of it as a way to pay to maintain our bridge, road, and transit infrastructure.  Instead of paying per use like a toll, you could pay the annual vehicle levy that covers your travel through the region.  If you are driving a smaller vehicle, you could pay for less of a vehicle levy than your larger vehicle compatriots.  For those who run a business with a large vehicle, we could knock their fee down a level as a discount because they must drive for work.

I just think the carbon tax and vehicle levy should be seriously looked at as funding alternatives for TransLink.  Don’t forget that TransLink also operates and maintains many road and bridges in the region including the Knight Street Bridge, the Patullo Bridge, and the Dollarton Highway.  TransLink is more than transit.

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4 comments

  1. Instead of varying the vehicle levy by vehicle size, why not charge it by mileage? Gas taxes approach this (more use generally equals more gas), but a per kilometer charge (including insurance, gas taxes, and all vehicle registration charges) would go a long way to ensuring a user-pay basis. As you point out, rebates could be arranged for those who run businesses with large vehicles, or perhaps the disabled, etc.

    TransLink, indeed, is more than transit, but only charges users directly for the transit parts of its service, which obscures its multi-modal role.

    1. I like the pay by mileage idea. There was idea batted about for ICBC to institute that kind of policy with our car insurance. I’m not sure why ICBC didn’t jump all over it. I would think an actuary for an insurance company would find that the numbers show more driving introduces a higher chance of vehicle crash. Thanks for the comment Desmond.

  2. I think that though I support the Levy, there might be the problem where people have made a huge investment in buying a car, so they would drive it more. Ex) one might say: “well, I’ve already paid more for a vehicle levy, I guess gas won’t be that much worse after all”

    1. Point well taken. I can already see that in the way people drive. They already own a car, so they might as well use it. That’s people always calculate the cost of their commute with gas and parking only and never include the actual cost of the car in their decision.

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