Writing in Business In Vancouver, Peter Ladner gazes into the changing future of one segment of our local transportation mix — the personal motor vehicle, and personal transportation.  And it isn’t all rosy for those enamoured of motordom’s 1950’s paradigm.
An interesting set of predictions, especially in the wake of $ 4.4B allocated from the Feds & Provs for transit, with a missing $1.1B left for the Metro Mayors to find, not to mention ongoing operating costs.  Uber’s local introduction may be a first step.  But, Ladner looks at those ” . . . free roads and bridges . . .”, and their current massive expansion, with tolls and mobility pricing in mind.

peter_ladner.bikeLadner writes:        The war on cars has just begun. If you thought a few bike lanes were an issue, wait until you see what Uber, Tesla, GM and a plethora of ride-share companies are planning. This isn’t, strictly speaking, a “war on cars.” It’s a war on the single-passenger, privately owned, human-driven, mostly parked, heavily subsidized, pollution-be-damned, internal combustion car – the kind we’ve come to know and love, with its multibillion-dollar fantasies of “open roads” and social status.

The latest, hottest attack point is the pending arrival of Uber and similar transportation network companies in B.C., one of the last jurisdictions in North America to figure out how to fit them into the mix.

But also on the on-ramp is a wider mobility future that’s “automated, connected, electric and shared,” to quote a University of British Columbia study done for the City of Vancouver. Expect an end to free roads and bridges (as in region-wide tolls or some variation of regional mobility pricing); the imminent arrival of self-driving cars, trucks and buses; blurred lines between ride-sourcing and public transit; and, ultimately, an integrated monthly bill that gives you prepaid access to every available transportation option.

Comments

  1. That’s a pithy synopsis. One might substitute “war on cars” with “push back” against Mad Max mentality motordom.
    Death, crippling injuries, the waste of money on policing and hospitals, the endless hours worked at stupid jobs to pay for vehicles to get to the jobs – Motorist Hamsters with one eye on the wheel …
    Couldn’t count how many times I’ve been awoken because of some yobbo with his engine or car alarm. I recall one VW in Montreal whose alarm went non-stop during a hot summer weekend. Police attended, but nothing was done, so people had to keep their windows closed and suffocate. That car was trashed by angry residents.
    I lived in an apartment in Vancouver where a pencil-thin pencil-brained petrol head used to regularly leave one of his vehicles running for up to half an hour with the hood up while he stared at the engine – his idea of a good time. That noise drilled into my head. One night I put a sticker by the hood latch with the word moron written on it.
    From this apartment I could also hear the same car alarm going off every night – the owner testing it, I presume. It’s a famously obnoxious alarm with a repertoire of six or seven distinct elements that lasted a couple of minutes. To this day, if I hear just a piece of that, it’s torture. Regrettably, I never discovered who the perpetrator of this pain was, else I would have stickered that vehicle with something far less congenial than the word moron – something like: if I ever hear that car alarm again, this p.o.s. won’t be worth stealing.

  2. I’ve long thought that motorist misery on the roads correlates to a willingness for them to spend extravagantly on vehicles – that they perceive their new luxoboat will lessen their pain – raise their status in the eyes of fellow sov commuter rats spinning their wheels. Instead, it raises their stress levels – petrified of the first scratch; agonizing over payments to the banksters.
    If there were a moratorium on vehicle buying, we could easily get by without shelling out for another vehicle for ten years. That wouldn’t come close to using up all the product that’s parked on streets and dealer lots.
    If an individual can’t afford to buy their vehicle for cash, and have a substantial amount left over to support vehicular debt bondage, they shouldn’t buy, because after they do, they start hemorrhaging money.
    The marketing apparatus sucking people into vehicular servitude is like the tobacco industry. It took government intervention to partially countervail the lies. Doctors’ favourite brands of cigarettes; open roads; freedom …

    1. I beg the tens of thousands of BMW, Mercedes, Lexus, Maserati, Bentley owners and even the hundreds of thousands of Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, VW or GM owners beg to differ. The freedom you describe without a car exists only downtown Vancouver, or perhaps if you are retired in MetroVan if you have all day to get from A to B. To experience true freedom of mobility in BC, on weekends, on vacations and often every day you need a car. Anything else is just an illusion.
      Subsidized transit users ought to remember that most of the money for their 70% off bus or train ride comes from car users. If we had 50% less cars and they were all electric as in the utopian 2100+ power point presentation, then transit prices would triple.

      1. “Subsidized transit users ought to remember that most of the money for their 70% off bus or train ride comes from car users.”
        Exactly backwards thinking as ever. The real subsidy, the real cost? The rest of us paying for careless motoring. A substantive reduction in motoring equals vast sums of public money for other uses.
        “In 2010, there were 32,999 people killed, 3.9 million were injured, and 24 million vehicles were damaged in motor vehicle crashes in the United States. The economic costs of these crashes totaled $242 billion. Included in these losses are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage, and workplace losses. The $242 billion cost of motor vehicle crashes represents the equivalent of nearly $784 for each of the 308.7 million people living in the United States, and 1.6 percent of the $14.96 trillion real U.S. Gross Domestic Product for 2010.”
        https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812013

      2. We experienced 10 years without a car. It was our Magical Decade because we lived close to transit, work and the necessities of life. The savings allowed my household to kill off two student loans years early. Two decades later, we are close to being in a position to giving up on owning a car again, this time permanently.
        Commuting by driving is for migratory birds.

        1. Bully for you Alex. Good idea. Nobody should be on the roads unless they are completely comfortable driving.
          I know a couple that really wanted to make a difference and save the world, so they sold one of their cars. What with one working 45 minutes in one direction and the other 30 minutes in the other direction it was a nightmare. I guess going from south Vancouver to north Vancouver by bus isn’t the easiest thing to do. One decided to try for a shorter work week and was immediately fired. So that freed up the remaining car.

        2. I commend you. Others also do not eat meat or don’t drink alcohol. Yet others think the new weed laws coming into effect in mid 2018 are fine and others think they are deplorable and creating a society of veggies. It is about choices, or about letting others live their life as they see fit. Different ages, job requirements, hours of work, place of work, hobbies, values, kids, preferences of space or desirability to walk or bike in the rain all play a role in ones transportation and housing choices.
          Choices is what a modern society in a large metroplex like MetroVan needs. You to yours and I to mine, Alex.

        3. You can’t smoke almost anywhere. But you used to be able to almost everywhere. When harms to others (not to mention yourself) become apparent, it is right for some authority to protect the innocent.
          The reliance on cars and the harm they inflict on others are slowly being recognized, just as it took decades for that to happen with smoking. Many places around the world have limited the access of cars in certain areas, just as happened with smoking.
          It would have seemed unimaginable in the 60s that smoking would be all but banned everywhere.
          That is unlikely to happen to the same extent with cars. But it will happen a lot more than most people imagine. Car-free areas and interconnected networks will be commonplace. It won’t hurt the economy any more than banning smoking hurt restaurants or bars – against all the wailing predictions from those establishments. And once the masses experience urban life without cars they’ll never turn back. Just like smoking.
          The wailing from the car-dependent sounds very familiar.
          Less choice.
          More pleasure, enjoyment, health, fitness, wealth, green space, fresh water, birds, bees, butterflies…

  3. “To experience true freedom of mobility in BC, on weekends, on vacations and often every day you need a car.”
    Yesterday I went from Lonsdale Quay to the Vancouver Burnaby border in about 45-50 minutes. Three transfers, three modes (Seabus, Skytrain, GroundBus 🙂 Cost about $5 for two people, no waits beyond a couple of minutes for the bus on our final leg. Literally stepped off one mode and onto the next.
    The same trip (in reverse) by car share earlier in the day took about a half-hour, cost $14.
    Anyone with access to Google Maps and the ability to sit patiently for a few minutes at a time will find transit effective and cost-efficient. Saves you money for when you really need to rent a car and travel longer distances.
    It’s non-users’ fables about the inefficiency and hassles of transit that make it difficult to garner the funds to improve an already pretty good service.
    But if we all confined our comments to intelligent opinions and verifiable facts there are posters we’d never hear from again.

    1. Yes certain spots are accessible easily by transit. Many are not. Try exploring any of these areas without a car on the weekend
      Sunshine Coast north of Sechelt
      Whistler
      Tofino
      Parksville
      Cultus Lake
      Bellingham, WA
      Point Roberts
      Many of the regional parks in the Fraser Valley
      It is totally ok for you to life such a life. Totally. I commend you. However, I find it arrogant of folks that prefer no car to impose their world view onto others. We need freedom of choice. Do not tell folks how to live their life. They do not need more government imposed restrictions. They need less. Urban options often do not extend well into suburban or further out regions.
      Also see: the slow pick up of e-cars as many folks do not need a 700 km range ( gasoline powered) car on a daily basis, yet many do prefer it as they go the distance often enough, or find it more convenient than transit in the rain or with more than two people.

      1. Do actually read the damn post if you are going to respond ok?
        “Saves you money for when you really need to rent a car and travel longer distances.”
        The word outside of Metro Vancouver is accessible without car ownership.

        1. Yes it is.
          Just don’t try to get from the sticks in Surrey to N Van as a painter, plumber, interior decorator, roofer or architect. Only for retirees who have the 2h+ it takes.
          And: don’t expect everyone to prefer what you prefer to do. Choices, my friend, choices is what a big city like MetroVan needs. One size does not fit all. We need many different transportation modes for the many diverse people and life style choices for 2M+ people.

        2. Of course, there are painters, plumbers, interior decorators, roofers, and architects in North Van one could hire if one lived there. One doesn’t have to promote motordom by hiring tradespeople from the other side of Metro. That is a choice as well. And it is a choice that doesn’t promote subsidizing roads more than necessary. This simple concept, embodied in the Metro liveable region strategy, and focusing on multiple town centres, seems to be lost on some.

      2. Thomas, I’ve gone to most of these location without the use of a car – the only two exception being Tofino and Cultus Lake, but not because it is difficult in any way. I have gone as far as Port Alberni, Kelowna and Port Angeles without use of a car. If we had better bus rail and cycling infrastructure, then all these places would be easily accessible to all. Unfortunately, we seem intent on fittering away our precious tax dollars on motordom. Choice indeed.

        1. Good for you Arno but you cannot be a tradesman or a professional that needs to carry supplies and equipment. My plumber’s van is a workshop, as is the landscaper, etc., etc., etc.

        2. Think how easier your days could be if instead of crossing bridges and tunnels all day long, you built a business clientele more local to your place of residence.

        3. Jeff Leigh you seem to be under the erroneous impression that tradesmen can still live and raise a family in places like Vancouver or the North Shore. Sadly thanks to your pals like Gregor Robertson that is a dream. As housing prices have skyrocketed under Vision’s watch even the most successful plumber would have trouble coughing up $1.2 for a used townhouse.

        4. Actually, yes, Ron. We had a contract for a hotel on Chesterman Beach in Tofino, and many in Whatcom County, all over Bellingham and the dairy farms around Lynden. With all the diagnostic equipment and supplies the loads were quite substantial. One project entailed lugging everything down to Arizona. That trip and the California one entailed driving to FedEx with one load, to make sure everything was on it’s way. Then another drive to YVR with all the checked and carry-on stuff. SOV yes, but not exactly commuting to a 9-5. All our clients and consultants travel the same way. As do all the city and government inspectors and safety staff. Some in marked vehicles but mostly in their own vehicles.
          Canadian companies are encouraged to export their expertise. After-service is often part of the contract.
          Would you like me tell you about trips to the Okanagan or Comox and Powell River?

        5. Pretty bad that these projects can’t find local services and suppliers – at least on-island or within the state.
          But that aside, what percentage of traffic is devoted to those for whom a private motor vehicle is the only alternative?
          This thread is in response to Thomas’s assertion that we need private vehicles to go pretty much anywhere. That attitude is a major problem. It in no way serves the purposes of those who need vehicles for work. In fact it just clogs up the roads you need.

        6. Why is it pretty bad, Ron? Is it bad that Hilton have a hotel in Paris? Should they all be French? Is it bad that Toyota sells cars in Indonesia? Should they all be Indonesian? Is it bad that China makes solar panels and sells them all over the world? Should all manufactured goods be made locally. Are we best advised to go back to a time when everything was local? Should we stop actors coming to Vancouver to act in local made movies? It’s the same thing. Think about any mechanical system incorporated in any building; drains and pumps, water systems, lights, heating systems, window systems, ventilation systems, communications systems, alarm systems, sprinkler systems, laundry systems, waste systems, elevator systems, door systems, cladding and structural systems. How can all these be locally made and serviced in a city like Victoria or Kamloops, or any of thousands of other places? If any of those buildings have businesses in then the need for services and suppliers only increases. Individuals trained in dealing with hundreds of specialties are required to travel all over the planet, in cars, trucks and in planes.
          Even Brodie Bikes uses American made hubs and I don’t think Shimano is a Vancouver based company either.
          Does everyone ride a Brodie? No imports allowed.

        7. The subject is moving people. You tried to make it about moving your specialized plumbing tools, which apparently aren’t available in other parts of the world, but now you have switched to manufacturing.
          When Hilton builds a hotel in Paris, to use your example, do they only hire tradespeople from Surrey/Delta? And if they do, are those tradespeople required to bring their own tools?
          Exporting expertise is a good idea. Used plumbing tools, not so much.
          I bought a new bike last week. Not a Brodie. It has Shimano hubs. But I was able to find a local supplier with trained staff who could assemble the bike. I didn’t need to bring a bike technician from Japan. And if I did, I would have let him use my tools.
          Do you see how ridiculous your argument is?

        8. “How can all these be locally made and serviced in a city like Victoria or Kamloops, or any of thousands of other places?”
          3D Printers.
          They will be a game changer.
          But in the meantime… trade is good. Reliance on long distances for everything including a daily commute that would have been the lifetime limit of travel for 99.9% just a couple hundred years ago is far far too much of a good thing.
          There are benefits to mobility. Guess what Eric? We all get that. Pretending the downsides don’t exist is not a sign of intelligence. It only leads to absurd justifications.

  4. People come to Canada expecting freedom and they are not disappointed. As we see every day many of them buy vehicles to get around the nearly 3,000 square kilometers that make up Metro Vancouver. They clearly don’t mind subsidizing some people taking a 45 minute trip on three transit modes for $2.50, they probably had nice comfy seats too.
    We must not forget that this is massively subsidized by drivers or vehicles. Even TransLink tells us that gas taxes, parking taxes and toll taxes account for just about the same amount as they earn in fares. And, those drivers pay property taxes that go to TansLink too!
    Whenever I take transit I am infused with gratitude for the lavish network that is mainly paid for by those that have to, or choose to, drive.

    1. The urbanized area is only ~820 km2. You are including the vast North Shore watersheds. Are you suggesting we run 10-lane freeway swichbacks up the Seymour Canyon?

  5. “We must not forget that this is massively subsidized by drivers or vehicles.”
    You fellows love this myth.

    1. Facts my friend. Facts.
      Take away 50% of cars and 50% of them being electric and there – poof – goes all the money TransLink relies on.
      Should we institute bike licensing and a per km bike charge too ?

      1. In that scenario, what would we do with all the money that we used to use to subsidize the fossil fuel industry? What would you spend it on first? And how much land could be reclaimed if we didn’t need such wide roads and highways? Imagine the possibilities.

        1. BC hardly subsidizes any gas or oil development. It is a myth. We also would not tear up roads or tunnels that already exist. Presumably we then spend far more on subways, LRTs, buses and e-share systems were each ride is likely not $2.10 like today on a Compass card but far higher, since 75% of the TransLink $s generated by the 100,000s of cars in MetroVan would disappear and would have to be replaced with something else: higher user fares, higher property taxes, per km bike fees, higher PST, etc ..

        2. “BC hardly subsidizes any gas or oil development. It is a myth.”
          Apparently you didn’t read about the deep drilling tax credit. Or the special tax deal for LNG producers. It was widely reported. You should keep up.
          But why are you limiting yourself to BC? No federal subsidies in your world?
          It is cute how you throw bike user fees into so many of your rants. If you want to replace the fuel taxes on vehicles as a transit funding source, how about charging for road use? Perhaps spend some of the savings from the health care system related to greatly reduced crash numbers for your 50% reduction in private vehicle use.
          If you don’t want to tear up roads that already exist but are no longer required, do you promote the same approach with other assets taking up real estate and not providing a return?

      2. “Just don’t try to get from the sticks in Surrey to N Van as a painter, plumber, interior decorator, roofer or architect.”
        Just a few posts ago private auto ownership was essential for leisure use. One must need a car to go from one faulty premise to the next so quickly I suppose.

        1. One must not, of course. Eric can schlepp his tools behind a bike of course on a trailer, or on the bus. But then he’d lose 2 h on one way trips, depending on distance. Also not so great uphill and in the rain. Why is the bridge to N-Van clogged every day ? Obviously because many find this bike or bus approach inconvenient, too. There are a lot of “Eric the Plumber” guys (and gals, of course) out there who love their car and prefer it over a bike or a bus, due to enhanced mobility, greater convenience and time savings.
          I still do not understand why allegedly green Vancouver still allows free parking in residential areas ? All doable to collect more cash and reduce car use. More on this “aprking is like squatting” here https://pricetags.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/free-parking-is-like-squatting/
          I am also totally cool with per km charges and more road/bridge/tunnel tolls. It would allow better flow, and many (but not all of course) would actually happily pay it and save 20 min on their usually 60 min commute. But the NDP voters with cars would howl “not fair .. who can afford it .. the rich get a better deal .. I want free roads” .. so loads of voter backlash. It will happen, in time ..

        2. Thomas, missing the point again, posted: “Eric can schlepp his tools behind a bike of course on a trailer, or on the bus”
          If a few (or many) of those commuters in SOVs, who comprise 90% of the traffic through the tunnel at peak periods, were provided reasonable alternatives such as rapid transit, there would be lots of room for the Surrey based plumbers of the world, like Eric, who need to drive. Without $3.5 b + of government debt. That has never been in dispute.
          But don’t let it stop you from tilting at windmills.

  6. 2017 is almost certainly going to be the first year that we see worldwide sales of light vehicles top the 100 million mark.
    Ford sells a just about 100 trucks every hour in the USA alone.
    Total US sales of cars and trucks last year were the highest ever at just under 18 million.
    India is seeing massive growth in car sales this year. With India on track to have the largest population in the world by 2050 (The Economist).
    Ernst & Young (the City of Vancouver’s usual global accounting firm) calculates that the middle class in India is now around 50 million and growing to 200 million by 2020. That’s just three years from today.
    E&Y also calculates that by 2030 around 700 million in China will be in their middle class.
    Last week the Spectator Index reminded us that in 1980 over 80% in China were living in poverty. By 2013 that number was down to under 2%.Statista reminds us that China is probably on track for 25 million car & light truck sales this year.
    This is all good because the popular old 2-stroke mini-motorbikes are so bad in terms of pollution.
    With Indonesia set to become the fifth most populous country in the world by 2050 (The Economist), it is also worth a look. Ipsos Business Consulting projects the ‘Consuming Class Population’ in Indonesia to rise from 67 million in 2015 to 88 million by the year 2020. Concurrently the sales of cars and light vehicles is expected to be from 8.28 million to 11.88 million by 2020.
    Someone will have to live a long time if they hope to see the demise of the private vehicle.

    1. Eric, don’t confuse sensitive pricetags readers with too many facts that do not fit their worldview of “the e-car is just around the corner, the bike will save us all, and fossil fuels are evil and will kill all humans”.

      1. Thank you for your wise words Thomas. Yesterday I made the stupid choice of injecting humour into the conversation. I was quickly reminded, and censored, that flying around the world, carbon credits and the nasty automobile are not a funny subject.

        1. If you review your comment, and think about it, you may be able to see that personal attacks aren’t humorous. And trying to add humour doesn’t change the fact that they are personal attacks.
          But maybe not.

        2. I commented on public servants flying all over the planet. I did not write a personal attack to anyone. Certainly not to anyone posting here.

        3. Perhaps you are unable to understand the double standard of people that tell us to do as they say, not as they do.
          Clark Lim pointed this out too. Will he be censored too?

        4. I’m not an editor, so no, I didn’t delete your post., or report it. But I saw your comment before it was deleted. The person you were attacking posts here occasionally, IIRC. But why does that matter? An attack is an attack. Do thieves get off if they don’t know their victims personally?
          Focus on the idea, not the person. Pretty simple concept IMO.

      2. What’s the population of Vancouver Island Beyer? No one who reads this blog regularly will erroneously label your behaviour as being indicative of a slavish devotion to facts. In fact, they appear to frighten you.

        1. Around 800,000 .. https://www.google.ca/search?q=population+vancouver+island
          Unfortunately we are not allowed to edit posts which would be a very useful feature. I may have said 500,000 .. woopee doo .. the same ballpark / magnitude
          My point thee was to compare it to Taiwan which is a similarly sized island with 25 times the population of around 24M ( https://www.google.ca/search?q=population+taiwan ) .. and associated transportation choices being more rail and subways than cars.
          Cars are a wise choice for less densely populated parts of MetroVan, V Island and BC in general, and that is why around 100M are produced annually. And yes, some of them are electric .. less than 1% .. and yes that will increase as range increases, prices drop and charge stations are more numerous and charge faster ..
          And yes there are some tax credits for oil and gas firms .. I called it “hardly any” which is true in BC’s $48B annual provincial budget !!
          Truth is not black and white, my (young?) friend !

        2. Thomas, I can assure you that it won’t be old farts who come up with the solutions to the problems created by old farts.

        3. Any solution in a big city is incremental, in stages, over time. More e-cars, more bike lanes, more densification, more road/bridge/tunnel tolls, per km charges, more debt, ever higher public servants salaries, ever more resistance to higher taxes, more AVs, more people .. hey a subway even one day all the way to UBC or N-Van or W-Van .. may I live the day .. and I am not even 60 .. quite a young fart actually given life expectancies will be 100+ for healthy folks in their 50s with no gene pool indicating major diseases .. looking forward to 50+ more years of online and in-person commentary .. based on facts, truth, life style preferences, taxes paid, income situation, physical location, education level, rumours or mere opinions !!!
          Keep in mind that “old farts” tend to pay most taxes and tend to have the most sway over major decisions in politics .. and I believe CC is in her 40s .. so she is not going away anytime soon either .. younger than our young 50s mayor ..
          You’ll be glad to know I drive a hybrid, use both major car shares in the city quite a bit, walk a lot and find diesel buses or trucks appalling .. especially if wobbly like the #99 buses ! Where are the e-buses or gas-trucks in (allegedly so) green Vancouver ?
          I also think that a tax grab of over 25% of anyone income taxes is unethical, bordering on theft and that public sector employees with very high job security & safe pensions need to earn far less than a comparably educated and capable private sector employee with far lower job security and little to no pension & benefits (but of course you knew that already)
          Variety (of opinion) is the spice of life, is it not ?
          There is no “I” in TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More !

  7. Why do all topics have to end up arguing about auto vs. transit subsidy? There are so many cross-subsidies (tangible and intangible) between so many aspects of modern society, including between all transport modes, that it is difficult to prove one is subsidized more than another. To say you know the facts, well no one has really done a good job at such a “wicked” analysis. Consider this: subsidies are like you doing people favours, and vice versa. Over your life time you probably gave a hand to many people and them in return. Try doing the accounting on that to see who helped who more is probably easier than to figure out the impact of subsidies of various modes over lifecycles and across populations that have varying migration and utilization rates by mode. I find most studies are either biased to one mode or do not do a complete and exhaustive enough analysis. If you know and have proof that one mode is more subsidized, please share it with the group. And the word “subsidy” doesn’t even do justice to the concept of the interaction between social welfare and economic equity which also requires a definition of how each individual perceives value. To really consider this honestly and thoroughly is like opening up Pandora’s box as your going down the rabbit hole. I commend those who try with an objective and sincere approach.
    Now going back on topic, it is about how technology is affecting human transport. And yes we do have flying cars by now, in fact a while now. But technical feasibly is the easy part. It’s regulatory, legal, economic, and social feasibility that is and will be the difficult part from now on. In the past, technology was the hard part (i.e. hundreds of years ago) and what we take for granted like a TV remote, would be considered magic then. Now technology is becoming ubiquitous and cheap. Did you check how much 1 GB of memory costs these days? We don’t even talk about memory in GBs anymore and it’s now TBs. And that TV remote, when the buttons are gummed up, you just exchanged it for a new one from the Shaw booth at the local mall, so it’s basically free. Or am I subsidizing everyone’s new remote?

    1. Even without thorough analysis, does anyone besides Thomas, Bob and Eric think motorists actually pay the full costs of their personal share of the road?
      The complexities of cross-subsidy aside, I have a huge issue with the TransLiink tax in the price of fuel. Call it a “regional road user fee”. It still wouldn’t cover the cost of our local roads which we know are mostly paid by local property taxes. Motorists could hardly complain about a fee used to pay for the roads they use (though many still would, driving being a right and all.)
      The TransLink tax just makes motorists feel like they are paying to subsidize transit which simply cannot be true – if they haven’t finished paying the cost of their use of the roads.
      I believe the TransLink tax is a major reason for the defeat of the plebiscite. The driving majority felt they were already paying for those slackers who ride transit, not to mention the “bloated bureaucracy” that only exists because of the robbery of the motorist.
      If local municipalities had a mechanism to collect road taxes on local roads that covered their costs there would be more than enough money left in general revenue to provide excellent transit.
      Since we know that some urban transit routes break even we could surmise that most of the system could theoretically run that way. The main reason it doesn’t is because of the sprawl that makes it impossible – sprawl created by the enormous space required to provide for the car as the primary means of travel.
      Sprawl.
      It can’t be stated enough how big a financial mess it creates for everyone.

      1. You state “I believe the TransLink tax is a major reason for the defeat of the plebiscite. The driving majority felt they were already paying for those slackers who ride transit, not to mention the “bloated bureaucracy” that only exists because of the robbery of the motorist.” and to which I state: Exactly.
        Which taxes would you cut in lieu if you increase road use fees ? Government is already too big, so where do you propose to cut ? Property taxes ? PST ? Gasoline taxes (as surely a Tesla or even an e-truck wears out the road and clogs it) ? Income taxes ?
        People move to Canada (and not Asia or Europe) in larger numbers because of SPACE and the ability to buy a HOUSE, not to rent or buy a tiny shoe box only in crowded dense (often ugly) neighborhoods (or slums often) that exist in many European and Asian cities today due to their excessive socialist taxation and welfare schemes.
        Many buy a condo, but many more would prefer a house with a yard. As such, city planners & politicians have to provide these choices and not force folks into a tiny shoe box. Look at the sprawling lifeless ugly condo towers in Burnaby. This is beauty ? This is progress ? No thanks, many say, and drive 1/2h further to get a townhouse at least.

        1. “Exactly” ! ?
          You live in the myth. Perception is everything. The truth be damned !
          Thomas, did you read what I wrote ?
          I’d cut the “Translink Tax” !
          I’d collect that same money as a “road user fee” on the price of fuel. That would leave the same amount of cash in general revenue. And then I’d spend that on transit instead of roads.
          Nothing changes except the false perception that motorists subsidize transit.
          Then, I’d take Clark Lim’s comments seriously and commission an unbiased, in-depth study on how much our roads cost us, how much is pure public benefit and how much is a subsidy to individual motorists (collectively).
          If it finds that motorists do not pay their way I’d initiate a five year plan to tax them so they do – electric cars too. TDM is probably the best way to make that palatable to motorists because too may couldn’t afford the over-building that is occurring with our current government (their third largest campaign contributor being the New Car Dealers Association). TDM uses assets more efficiently so it would be cheaper for motorists and taxpayers alike.
          If people want to live in a house and commute farther they should have to pay the real costs. The only evidence I’ve seen is that they do not.
          Please prove otherwise.

        2. CHOOSE to Drive 1/2 hour further.!!! Then whine about it later when heavy traffic they create turns it into a 1 hour commute. Their choice!!!!!

        3. @Ron: It you replace the current per liter gasoline taxes with per km charges what is the real difference besides the point that you now also cover e-cars ? Might as well drive a V8 or a hummer as gas now is cheaper!
          Or are you merely saying the per km or per l charges are far too low and/or that we need both ?
          Since road use charges or energy charges are like higher PST taxes, I.e in everything you eat, buy or use, are you then suggesting to lower PST ? See also firms in Ontario closing shop or laying off folks due to far higher energy costs. Or firms will pay lower wages if they now have to pay more for the road use or higher energy.
          Wiggle one variable and other parts of the system react !
          Not everyone buys into the ” higher taxes are better ” philosophy, Ron. Or are you merely aspiring to the (collapsing) European high tax, big government big debt small wages small condo system ? That’s not why I came to Canada, btw !

        4. What is irksome is the false equation that “subsidy” is a simple tax on gas. Automobile-dominated subdivisions consume public services at a far higher per capita level than more compact towns and cities, yet the multiple tax rates usually do not cover them. Ergo “subsidy”. Even in tax-averse Alberta cities like Calgary have higher property tax rates than Vancouver to cover the costs of extending public services to the exurbs, which were calculated in the early 2000s at an average of about $10,000 a year per household.
          The conjecture that roads = freedom seems to ignore the public cost of the services below them that have to extend many km further to service a lower population, the emergency personnel holding broken bodies together after car crashes, the ER and long term recovery costs, litigation in public courts, pollution remediation, building schools and community in low density communities, and so forth. In this light subsidies take on the form of external costs.
          So the “confusion” over the word subsidy exposes the divide between those who drive less and don’t pay a lot of fuel taxes and those who drive a lot and claim they pay through their noses, and who cannot admit that their ‘choice’ to live further afield on a larger hunk of land costs society more largely through the unseen pipes under the roads and the accidents some neighbours have.

      2. Replacing the translink gas tax with road user fees would allow gas stations to compete fairly with those across the border.

        1. Good point. Will it induce big V8 powered F150s and Hummers though ? Or would we toll a heavy pickup truck more per km than a light e-Smart Car ?
          I believe the Oregon plan to have a tracking device per car instead of gasoline taxes was dropped. Does anyone know why that was and what their plan going forward is ? Worthy a few blog posts.
          Some more here http://www.ktvz.com/news/central-oregon/odot-to-try-out-per-mile-road-charges/68861720
          Or here http://www.myorego.org/frequently-asked-questions/

  8. The automobile needs to be converted to an all electric vehicle as rapidly as possible if we are to reduce emissions coming from the transportation sector. As Eric informs us, the current rate of gas and diesel auto production is 100 million units per year globally. Even if all new car production is electric it would take 20-40 years to replace every gas powered vehicle as it wears out.
    Someone should develop universal electric conversion kits to replace gas engines as they wear out. The market for this product is huge (100million x 20?). This conversion strategy reduces lifecycle environmental impacts because the longer a car is driven the smaller it’s environmental impact.
    Rapid conversion to electric cars means that we will need to develop new renewable energy generation, storage systems, and distribution systems with capacity to meet increasing demand.

    1. Unfortunately we won’t solve the GHG emission problem by thinking in the way that created it. This is a major limitation of “conservatives” who lack the mental capacity to look forward.
      Ignoring, for this purpose, all the other sectors that require a rethink, simply shifting to electric vehicles will have far too small an effect. The numbers just don’t add up to the elimination of GHGs from our society/economy by 2050. But nothing less will do.
      There are several things that have to occur simultaneously and probably a few more we haven’t quite visualized or resolved yet.
      The most important by far is the radical reduction in how much things or people need to travel in the first place. Cut supply chains and commutes in half and you’ve eliminated half without doing anything else. This is completely doable. And it has so many other positive benefits from reduced demand on costly, inefficient roads to building better communities to making economies more resilient and self-sufficient.
      Getting more goods and people on electrified railway systems is up there too and not even radical. – it’s done and been done in the richest countries and in developing countries.
      Half the environmental impact of a car over its life is making it in the first place. And electric cars are currently slightly worse. Without reducing their numbers by providing alternatives there is very little to be gained.
      Also, don’t be fooled that we need to replace the energy currently provided by oil with the same amount of electricity – particularly in the transportation sector. The ICE is a very inefficient machine. Electric motors will require a fraction of the energy to do the same job. It’s why electric vehicles operate for pennies of electricity even though electricity is more expensive than gas/oil per unit of energy. It’s why we can, for the time being, afford free EV charging stations. It just isn’t very expensive to charge.

      1. Henry Ford tinkered with that idea of e-cars 100+ years ago. https://www.wired.com/2010/06/henry-ford-thomas-edison-ev/ The idea of an e-car is not new at all. It is just that the car has to schlepp the energy with it. As such, gasoline (or diesel) and an ICE is a VERY efficient machine converting very dense energy into forward machine, far more efficient than an electric machine plus battery. Yes, that is slowly changing, ever so slowly. Some good charts on energy density here: https://www.google.ca/search?q=energy+density+batteries+gasoline+chart Improving but still factor 10 or so off between the best batteries and gasoline or diesel per kg of weight or l of volume.
        With new fuel efficient engines and rising electricity rates to European or Ontario levels the price per km difference is also not that great anymore, btw. Yes cheaper per km in an urban context – and cleaner too. Yet, why are they not flying off the shelves with such compelling arguments ? Answer: purchase price, charge speeds, range constraints. That is why I drive a hybrid for now – due to these three reasons of pure e-cars.
        E-cars will shine on shorter distances, like in urban areas – charged at night at home. As such affluent home owners that can afford two cars will be the first adopters, then folks with a mainly urban need even if only one car, in a house. A big step then onto condo towers or apartment buildings as a conversion of existing condo towers or apartment buildings to have a large number of high voltage fast-chargers is very very expensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *