Cell phone levy among TransLink tax ideas
Jeff Nagel in the Surrey Leader has a substantial article and a video on line of the Translink’s Board’s discussion on new revenue sources. (Of course this is not the “professional” board – this is the Mayors who get stuck with the unpopular stuff)
Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie called it a “long list” that looks “mostly unacceptable.”
Of course it will be the province that decides – and the Board also recognises that – and is already saying that Mr Falcon must tell them which ones the can come forward with. Though of course they would much prefer that somebody else pay – which includes the idea from Diane Watts (who I used to think was an improvement on Doug McCallum but now I am not so sure) who suggested putting the tolls back on the Coquihalla! Indeed the idea that the rest of the province should pay for Vancouver seems to be common around that table.
Both congestion charges and pay as you drive insurance are in there – but I would not expect either to get the necessary provincial approval at present. And as Malcolm J commented recently, there is no way any of the ideas that would have the effect of reducing driving will actually work until there is a better transit system – much better than the one they are currently trying to find ways to pay for. The system as it presently is configured simply does not have the peak hour capacity to absorb more demand. UPass did reduce car use at SFU and UBC – but it also created a passup problem that is far from resolved.
Metro mayors would have final say next summer on approval of the new taxes and the expansion package they would finance.
If they said no to the tax measures and the expansion, TransLink’s board would proceed with a “base case” to run the system with existing resources.
That would mean deep cuts to transit service – taking it back to 1974 levels, according to one internal estimate – as well as the scrapping of major rapid transit expansions like the Evergreen Line.
TransLink is already starting to outspend its finances as it takes on higher operating costs of new projects like the Canada Line and adds more buses to its fleet.
A $103 million budget shortfall next year is to be drawn from TransLink’s reserves, which will be depleted by 2011.
Not quite, Jeff. The Minister of Transportation and the Premier will have the final say. The good news is that may not necessarily be the present incumbents of those posts. Not that the NDP have been any keener to raise taxes to pay for a decent transit system either. It was now Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh – then temporary NDP premier who killed the vehicle levy, don’t forget.
The only possible solution is to come up with the money for a lot of new transit that can be implemented very quickly – before the new tax kicks in. Abandoning other transportation programs in this region would also have to be part of how that is managed.
UPDATE Jeff has another piece now (5:25pm Dec11) “Falcon won’t duck Translnik tax debate”
except for the toll on the twinned Port Mann he won’t raise new regional taxes to pay for his favourtite road projects either