Would you be more willing to support Metro Vancouver’s proposed mobility pricing scheme if it meant a big price break at the pump?
That’s one of the ideas being proposed in the final report of the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission, due to be presented to the TransLink Mayors’ Council on Thursday.
Speaking on CKNW’s The Simi Sara Show on Wednesday, New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Coté said the council has had a chance to review the recommendations, and while he wasn’t willing to share all of them, he did say the gas tax break is one idea being considered.
Metro Vancouver drivers pay more than 43 cents of tax per litre on gasoline.
Ten cents of that is federal excise tax, while an additional 33.28 cents is levelled provincially. According to the province, 17 cents of that is a special, regional TransLink fuel tax. Then there’s GST.
Coté admitted that there are aspects of the mobility pricing report regarding affordability “that we’re all going to find challenging.” But he said slashing gas taxes would be one possible way to earn public buy-in for the proposal.
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“I think that might be an interesting discussion to have with the general public,” Coté said.
“Would you be more open at looking at a tool that can help manage transportation in the region, but in exchange for that, reduce some of the other costs that drivers face?
“There’s a bit of a tax shift there.”
The commission released an interim report earlier this year that narrowed its focus down to two proposed models of mobility pricing.
The first is congestion point charges, essentially a system of fixed tolling points at bridges, tunnels, intersections or tolling zones where drivers pay to enter or exit.
The second is distance-based charges that vary by time or location, with drivers possibly paying more per kilometre during busy times of the day.
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Coté argued that many people look at mobility pricing solely as a way to generate revenue, but from his perspective it is more about altering when, where and how people travel — with the goal of cutting road congestion.
“The reason the tool is being looked at is it’s a model that can help shape travel demand,” he said.
“If you live on the North Shore, you live in the Fraser Valley and you’re spending half your day stuck in traffic, there might be an openness to say, ‘How can we better manage that traffic?'”
According to the commission’s interim report, the public said it is least interested in a system that charges drivers per kilometre on the road, and was most supportive of a scheme that gave breaks to drivers in areas with poor transit access.
It also found significant concerns about fairness and affordability, but noted that people also wanted more predictable travel times and expanded public transit.