A vision of Vancouver's pay-to-drive future

Road tolls, carbon taxes and a smorgasbord of new fees are all being considered to help pay for mass transit in greater Vancouver. But according to a confidential report obtained by the Vancouver Sun, regional and provincial bureaucrats will recommend “a comprehensive road pricing scheme” as the best option to fuel Translink’s growing funding needs.

From the story:

A copy of the document obtained by The Sun says the move to road pricing could be implemented in various ways, including by tolling major water crossings, tolling entry and exit points to defined areas of Metro Vancouver — possibly varying by time of day — or by tracking and charging for total kilometres driven. All these options were given high or fairly high ratings on all four criteria taken into account: the impact on people’s transportation choices, the impact on families and the economy, fairness and transparency, and the ability to generate and sustain revenues.

Road tolls may well make sense. As exorbitant house prices in Vancouver’s core push new residents further and further out, the need to bring them back in for work and play will only grow. Mass transit is the best way to make that happen, but Translink doesn’t have the money to keep up with growth. Tolls can both take drivers off already over-stressed roads and bring in money to build and maintain better fixed links between sub- and urban Vancouver.

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine either the NDP or the Liberals embracing that kind of idea in an election year. It’s the kind of thing that could fly in the core, where bike-friendly, organic juice magnate Gregor Robertson rules supreme. But try door-knocking in Surrey on that kind of platform if you want another opinion.