Mobility pricing doomed to fail if it’s seen as unfair: report

WATCH: Metro transit plan: What is mobility pricing?

Metro Vancouver’s planned new mobility pricing scheme is likely doomed to fail if the public sees it as unfair, according to a new report.

The document, produced by left-leaning think tank The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), also warns that new fees for road use are likely to disproportionately affect low income people.

LISTEN: Transit investment needed if mobility pricing introduced

An independent commission is currently examining options for mobility pricing for the region, seen as a way to cut congestion while raising revenue. Early work suggests the region could see a new system of tolls or a system that charges drivers per kilometre travelled.

CCPA senior economist Marc Lee, who penned the report, looked at the successful mobility pricing systems implemented in Stockholm, Sweden and London, England. He said the system can work if there is buy-in from the public.

“[In Stockholm], they actually did a six month trial, and then the voters got to decide and it passed a referendum,” he told CKNW’s The Jon McComb Show.

READ MORE: Mobility Pricing Independent Commission launches phase 2 of public engagement

In particular, Lee said the system will need to address the needs of low-income households, many of whom have been forced to move further from their jobs or the downtown core in order to find affordable housing.

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WATCH: New details on possible Metro Vancouver mobility pricing for transit

New details on possible Metro Vancouver mobility pricing for transit
New details on possible Metro Vancouver mobility pricing for transit

He said many of those people have become car dependent, and don’t have realistic other options in the short term.

“If they’re going to take public transit the time cost of that, or the inconvenience of doing it, or the need to pick up your kid from childcare and get where you are going would be compromised if you’re only relying on that one mode of transportation.”

Lee argued that the best way to protect that segment of society and build good will in the project would be to create a credit, similar to the carbon tax credit, for low-income road users.

READ MORE: Mobility pricing will cost more than you think, warns Canadian Taxpayers Federation in B.C.

He said in the end, a large part of whether or not people accept the new fees hinges on how the money it raises is used, and whether reasonable alternatives are put in place.

“We need to use some of those revenues to invest in building out the public transit system so that there are more options for people to get where they are going more quickly.”

He added that in London and Stockholm, where the public accepted the system, it was in part because they had efficient and reliable transit options as an alternative to driving.

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