There has been some disappointing rhetoric about bridges, tolls, and congestion coming out of the stirred soup of next month’s Provincial election. While one candidate wants to restrict Port Mann bridge vehicle tolls to a 500 dollar annual upset amount-after that you are driving for “free”-another candidate says they will take away tolls entirely. Of course both of these approaches will induce further demand for vehicular travel, and further accentuate the 20th century approach to motordom where the car is king. Missing in this posturing is the reasoned and prudent approach to encouraging mass transit and car share, moving in the region as if livability and accessibility matter.
Metro Vancouver mayors have been discussing an approach  reported by Marcello Bernardo with CKNW “seeking approval to toll all bridges, so the money collected can be spent on transit improvements, but there’s been resistance from Victoria. The Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges have also been losing money because many drivers take alternate toll-free crossings.”
In Metro Vancouver “Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay says both pledges send the wrong message.You need to pay for this infrastructure somehow and you need to make it a little bit of a social penalty for encouraging people not to drive everywhere in their cars.” Clay is one of several Metro Vancouver mayors pushing for every bridge crossing in the region to be tolled.“Why isn’t it a dollar or two dollars on every bridge crossing?”

Mayor Clay also mentions a conundrum-while gas tax go to fund transit systems, electric cars are not taxed, and  in “some cases, we’re supplying the electricity for the cars, so we need to be very careful about doing things that encourage sprawl and encourage the use of a single-occupant vehicle.”

And the big question-why are the political parties not talking to the Metro Vancouver Mayors Council about how to best move (no pun intended) the region forward? Most mayors will agree further growth and development needs to concentrate on transit hubs and stations, focusing on public transit, not the private automobile.

Comments

  1. *deleted as per editorial policy*
    Why not state
    Vancouver housing will always be expensive unless we stop immigration from abroad and other provinces.
    Roads and bridges are expensive and tolling makes total sense to reduce demand and to have heavy users pay more.
    Our public healthcare system is unsustainable.
    12 years of free education is a waste on some. Let’s stop after grade 10 with some form of testing.
    Our public servants need to be well paid, but not far better than comparable private sector jobs given their high job security, far better benefits and shorter annual and life time hours worked.
    Etc
    Does it matter what they say as they change their mind after an election anyway ?

  2. The Lower Mainland is NOT liveable at all – not when it can take the better part of an hour to travel less than 20 km or 45 minutes to go from Park Royal to Lonsdale Quay. We are among the most congested areas on the continent and we have been for many years. That’s because of the fairy-tale world the local mayors (other than Lois Jackson) and their planning advisers seem to live in – a “Disney” world that does not reflect the hard facts of life. Insisting that transit will solve gridlock is foolish – it hasn’t worked nor will it work in the future. I’ve been hearing this nonsense since 1975 and after all the transit we built here over that period, we are still stuck in needless traffic. Yet you guys keep propagating the same ideology. You must be living in a “ground hog day” scenario where you can’t see this didn’t work in the past (i.e. you don’t or won’t accept that your policies just don’t work!). I thought we lived in a “free” country where we had a choice.
    *deleted as per editorial policy*
    Where does the Mayor of Port Moody get off telling me I should pay a social “penalty” just because I drive! Honestly! I don’t tell him how to travel! And in the next breath, he admits that drivers pay for transit out of the horrific gas prices we must pay out here. I still don’t understand why you guys are so bent outta shape about cars. They have taken us from the horse and buggy (and slow tramcar) days into a modern world. But yet all you guys seem to want to do is catapult us back there into the grim past. What’s worse is that the heavy personal and business taxes I must give up every year go into your over-priced salaries! I’m literally paying you guys to make life miserable! Victoria is doing the right thing by not supporting tolls for all the bridges. Wouldn’t the local mayors love to get their hands on more of our money to waste. You know the saying: “There’s no end to the good that do-gooders can do if they are spending other people’s money!” We pay enough already. If transit is so good, make passengers pay for it – not the driver!

    1. Freewaydriver, How unfortunate for you that you choose to have no choice. The world you describe is not the one I live in. Mine is highly livable and super easy to get around. Your name says so much about you.
      I apparently have about $10k extra per year to spend however I feel, as I ride my bike most everywhere I go. I couldn’t imagine it taking 45 minutes to get from Park Royal to Lonsdale Quay – even by bus. But by bike I’d slice that time in half and don’t need to waste time in a gym. Nor standing at the pump either.
      You choose your misfortune. You choose your crankiness, whining to us about your fears of a world with choice. A world you choose not to enjoy.
      It is also unfortunate that even members of the mayor’s council have this nonsensical idea that motorists help pay for transit just because there’s something called a TransLink tax in fuel.
      It’s all smoke and mirrors. We could call a portion of transit farebox income a “Highway Tax”. It would be equally absurd.
      The TransLink tax serves one purpose: It is specifically designed to make transit riders feel like beggars and motorists feel put out by those beggars. When motorists have finished paying their proportion of road costs… well, it’ll never happen as long as we have spineless campaigners trying to bribe stubborn motorists like you with my money.

      1. deleted as per editorial policy. Please read.
        As such, you don’t support either roads or transit. In fact – you don’t even pay for these ridiculous bike lanes you use either.
        deleted as per editorial policy

        1. Automobile parking is generally free and without time limits in my Renfrew/Collingwood neighbourhood. Vast swaths of municipal land just for the sole purpose of storing unused vehicles. One Atco bunkhouse per block and we could eliminate homelessness in the region, but somebody would have to walk ten extra steps, so sorry for the crazy talk.

        2. Well Freewaydriver, I don’t know what was deleted but I can assure you I pay property taxes in Vancouver and they are used to fund roads, roadside parking and bike lanes among many many other things. But the demand on roads and the wear and tear caused by cyclists (the cost) is a tiny fraction of that of motorists.
          As such I feel safe in saying that I contribute more than my fair share for transportation infrastructure.
          Could you please enlighten us what is “ridiculous” about bike lanes?

        3. The expectation of free parking is indeed like squatting. https://pricetags.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/free-parking-is-like-squatting/
          Much revenue could be had here to build more bridges, road widening and LRTs/subways as we need both. It would also reduce the number of cars somewhat as people realize the public roadway in front of their house is not theirs and may downsize from three to two cars, or to one or to none in some rare instances. Cars need to be priced in both modes: driving and not driving.
          Bike lanes are good, but they do not replace roads if no other alternatives, such as an LRT or subway, exist. Only a small % of commuters use them, and they are recreational outlets by and large, and not busy all year long due to rain and cold. We need all modes of transportation in a busy metroplex getting ever busier. Massive congestion to the ever busier N Shore is now very common, so we need better transit there or wider bridges, or likely, both, or a third or fourth crossing ( from Port Moody).

    2. Yesterday, my wife and I were enjoying a pleasant bike ride – we did a loop from Vancouver to IWMB, across the north shore to LGB and back to Vancouver. We experienced very little congestion and at times we were moving much faster than the congested mv traffic on the bridge and through Stanley Park on Park Drive. At the viewpoint near the top of the bridge, we met a senior who was taking pictures. We started chatting and he showed us his newish Trek bike. He had bought this 2 years ago and this was only his fourth time riding it. He admitted that this was the first time he had ridden a bike across the LGB. He also admitted that for the longest time he was against the installation of bike lanes but he was so stoked about riding his bike that day that he was now totally in favour of bike lanes. He was on his way to Olympic Village and was probably one of the few travelers from the North Shore that day that truly enjoyed their trip. It is so enjoyable to see people whose life is transformed after a decision to take one of their trips by bike.

      1. That’s great! Yeah, a lot of the people that were against bike lanes were just blindly following what they were told to believe but now that they’ve been around awhile, people are trying them out and liking them and forgetting that they’re supposed to not like them or something.
        It happens with any new thing it seems. The people who were against the new thing later on discover it and like it.

    3. @ freeway, that’s a lot of fumes expended to equate livability with blacktop and smog. The more you promote this the more I am convinced you’ve never spent much time in freeway-riven cities like LA, Phoenix or Atlanta to gauge their livability averages to justifiably compare them to Vancouver.
      This livability = asphalt thing cannot be defined by any known rational thinking. Otherwise you’d go out of your way to live next to the Trans Canada highway. Let me guess, you live on a quiet suburban cul-de-sac and freeways are someone else’s problem …. until you want to use one, in which case you’ll write extensive comments in blogs to support expropriating everyone’s property to build them, except for yours.

      1. Funny you say that, Alex. In fact, I’m less than one minute from the Trans-Canada Highway. And for the record, I find it much quieter than living half a block away from the SkyTrain. Living next to that thing in Burnaby was brutal! Had to go into the basement to make a call so those on the other end could hear what I was saying. I pity the poor souls living along that route. Just take a drive sometime and see what’s going on in the real world – they build a new highway and within a year, there are brand new homes built right up against the corridor right-of-way.
        Deleted as per editorial policy. Please read policy. You may be permanently banned.

    1. Excessive immigration coupled with too low density, demand by baby boomer’s kids, urbanization, low interest rates, excessive taxation due to ever rising public sector expenditures and free flowing foreign capital are just 6-8 of the many reasons for excessive housing prices, here, in SanFran or almost any city with decent cultural activities, jobs and/or universities. Show me a cheap modern city with a vibrant life.
      What’s the solution ? Tackling / addressing these 6-8 main causes.

  3. The NDP policy has some good words on this issue that many have overlooked – “reduce vehicle trips.”
    “We will work with mayors to develop lasting, effective and fair solutions to Metro Vancouver’s transportation needs that increase the use of public transit, and reduce vehicle trips overall.” p 17 If they are elected, and held to this commitment, it would mark a very positive shift in BC politics and put the BC NDP ahead of most of Metro Vancouver’s mayors. https://action.bcndp.ca/page/-/bcndp/docs/BC-NDP-Platform-2017.pdf
    Also, re “Mayor Clay also mentions a conundrum-while gas tax go to fund transit systems, electric cars are not taxed”
    I don’t understand why so many the mayors seem to hate the idea of taxing fossil fuels to fund transit, and love tolls. Maybe they think that responding to climate change with price signals is not important? Maybe they like wasting a large percentage of the revenue extracted from residents on toll collection and administration? Maybe they have not noticed that electric cars still make up less than 1% of sales, and far less as a percentage of cars on the road?

    1. Like most politicians mayors are beholden to their public servants. That is where the deep cutting (or at the very lest a flatlining of raises) needs to start so we can free up cash to fund transit, child care, social housing, roads etc
      The populace is maxed out on taxes and will say so on the ballot box, as we saw with a resounding NO on a mere 0.5% provincial sales tax increase.
      So if you want to take more, then give more !
      Where is the debate on effective SPENDING ? Bus drivers, BC Ferries workers, transit securities, firefighters, city managers, secretaries, unionized janitors, BC Liquorstore employees, garbage collectors, etc ALL are overpaid vs their private sector equivalent peers .. by 10-50% depending on position.
      Cut salaries, benefits and pensions and presto: there are the required $s for affordable housing, transit, new bridges ..
      Debating tolls or somewhat higher gasoline aka CO2 taxes is just a sideshow to distract from the REAL issues, notably unsustainable spending on public sector labour and unsustainable public healthcare. Both topics of course are verboten and not discussed at all, neither here nor in the (unionized) media. Why is that ?

      1. Thomas, your repetitive trolling on the public sector and immigration is not backed by evidence from ideologically-neutral economists and researchers. Were you mugged by an “overpaid” Muslim parking enforcement officer or something? Do you seriously think you’ll gain any traction here by doing your bit barking for the neocons?
        I suggest you connect to Stats Can and try to conduct some impartial research before you form conclusions.

        1. No need to waste any more time on Thomas. From last week, we know what kind of sources he has faith in.
          Equality starts there, no superior pay for equal work. http://www.cfib-fcei.ca/english/article/7290-public-sector-workers-oped.html
          From this report: https://www.fraserinstitute.org/studies/comparing-government-and-private-sector-compensation-in-canada
          CFIB and the Fraser Institute, no need to waste your time clicking and reading his links. If he thinks the research of a business lobby group and a bought and paid for right wing think tank constitute validation of his opinions, he is a very stupid man.

      2. Not only are there many non-union newsrooms in Canada, the direction given regarding coverage largely comes from management and producers who aren’t in the bargaining unit (in unionized newsrooms). Facts – so pesky.

        1. Regarding your comments on Thomas… it seems that Alex and Keith don’t want to believe anyone or anything that is not slanted so far to the left that it’s almost horizontal to the ground. Their bias can be likened to incest in a way… circling (literally) in their “artificial” support groups is not healthy nor is it a representation of “real” life. They are making their own version of “fake news” lol.

    2. I totally agree, Eric. Why the focus on electric cars right now? They are a minuscule percentage of the overall vehicles on the road. We should be taking more steps to encourage them, not less. Since a lot of the new development is based around arterial, emissions-free electric cars would be a particular improvement to nearby residents. And it’s a lot easier to collect a gas tax than to collect a bridge toll, and a lot less irksome to the driver. Assuming the bridges raised ~220M a year through tolls, a 5 cent gas tax would cover it, given that the province raises 44 M / cent tax.
      Once even 30% of cars are electric, we can start talking about other pricing schemes. It is counterproductive to do so now.

      1. Is this just Eric agreeing with himself as Anonymous or another valid user without a screen name? Spot the flaw inherent in the system when people who post most of the time with the same ID don’t take the 10 seconds necessary to ensure they are posting. So toxic to the trust necessary for useful conversation.

        1. I see that I have spoken in haste and overlooked an earlier post in the thread. Jumping to conclusions is a bad habit. I apologize for that, but not for my sentiment that one name/ID per person should be the approach we all adhere to.

        2. Or you could use ensure you only post under one pseudonym. It doesn’t seem beyond the ken of the other contributors here. That would help us hasty-posters from jumping to previously-witnessed conclusions. Or choose a new pseudonym. Is PAB Man too one the nose? Alice B. Tsunami? Let me know when I’m getting warmer 😉

    3. Raising gas taxes will create more cross border gas tax cheats to whine about the congestion that they caused. Replacing the gas tax with congestion driven road user fees would end congestion

  4. “We will work with mayors to develop lasting, effective and fair solutions to Metro Vancouver’s transportation needs that increase the use of public transit, and reduce vehicle trips overall.”
    Hmmm… and they’ll do this by striking down one of the most powerful tools to achieve that? Sorry, I don’t believe them. The NDP has been no more favourable to regional needs to finance transit than the Liberals have.
    Taxing fossil fuels to fund transit is a good short/mid-term strategy but we currently don’t and never have. It’s limitations are that it doesn’t discourage peak road demand, it is partly avoidable by those who live on the fringes and regularly fill up outside the collection area and will eventually be affected by the growth in EVs. It does discourage gas-guzzlers and that’s a very good thing.
    Variable price tolling reduces the pressure to build big mega-bridges that become political playing fields to entice more motorists to use it.
    Some combination of fuel and peak-travel taxes is best but I don’t see either main party helping to deliver it.

    1. None of the mayors are pushing for this combination of peak time tolls and higher fossil fuel taxes either. Nor is there really a coherent push in that direction from civil society groups or the Greens. If ya want it in politics, ya have to campaign for it.

  5. Three deletions. Too bad, because there may have been some good ideas posted that were mixed in with the personal attacks that are the usual reason for deletions.

    1. Yeah. Listen everyone. This is a great forum and a chance to find out about other people’s experiences and perspectives other than our own. Valuable stuff.
      We all get angry at times but before clicking on “Post Comment”, take a minute to read what you wrote and rewrite if you have to.

  6. (1)The proposed $500 a year all U can drive Port Mann toll is about a dollar crossing for most . Someone usually commuting by transit would continue to pay $3.15 when a car is needed. (2) The ICBC all U can drive insurance premium policy is just as stupid.

  7. It is clear that both the NDP and the BC Liberals have gotten the message from the majority of voters: we hate tolls/road pricing.

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