Thursday, 14 May 2015

Vancouver telephone debate indicates introducing sales tax would be unpopular

The Surrey Leader reports on a telephone town hall on the referendum for a proposed regional sales tax to pay for public transport improvements.  It reported on opposition to paying more, although a dial in poll indicated an almost even divide between confirmed opposition, and confirmed or indicative support for the sales tax.  However, one comment took my interest was the claim by Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Iain Black who is reported as saying that road pricing is proposed for the region and could reform the toll structure but said it isn't likely to come for 10 to 15 years.

Let's be clear, Vancouver could have road pricing in three years if it wanted to do so.  It could charge by a combination of distance, time and geography, with a back up of day passes for entry, if it wanted to.  It could combine this with reforming tolls on the Port Mann Bridge.   The issue is that the politics are seen to be too complicated.  It should be clear that the option of road pricing in Vancouver remains, but is not proceeding for political reasons, not technical reasons.  After all, Jakarta, Indonesia can roll out a pilot system in less than three years, Vancouver could certainly do the same.

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