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.