Vancouverites would tolerate tolls on new infrastructure, but prefer that the cost of roads and bridges be covered by a bigger share of income tax, suggests a new poll commissioned by CBC News.

The exclusive survey called "The Big Fix" focused on how much Canadians are willing to pay to improve their commute.

A majority of people surveyed in Vancouver — 72 per cent — said it’s acceptable to pay tolls on a new roadway or bridge to help cover its cost. Respondents said they’re willing to spend an average maximum of $3 per day in tolls.

But less than half would support a charge on existing roads or bridges to pay for their repair.

Instead, 46 per cent of respondents said they’d like to see a bigger portion of income taxes go to municipalities to cover local roads and bridges.

Kevin Mountain, who commutes from his Langley home to Vancouver for work, says he’s open to paying for the roads he uses as long as it's fair.

"Raising taxes or a tax on gas isn't the way to go," he said.

Which of the following do you think should be used to pay for roads/bridges?

  • 46% Municipalities receive higher share of income tax
  • 29% Congestion charge
  • 26% Road tolls
  • 18% Increase fuel tax at pump
  • 15% I don’t know
  • 10% Higher transit user rates
  • 6% Increased sales tax
  • 3% Prefer not to answer

Several mayors south of the Fraser support adding tolls equally across the region, forcing all drivers to pay no matter where they live.

Gordon Price, a professor of urban studies at Simon Fraser University, said tolls are generally unpopular but drivers may support them under certain conditions.

"People have to say 'Ah, my money is going there, I see the results.' The second thing is it has to be pretty invisible, it has to be electronic. You sure don't want to have to go through a toll booth," said Price.

More than 60 per cent of respondents believe tolls would encourage some drivers to switch to public transit.

Just over half of Vancouver respondents also said they’d be willing to pay more for better public transit, compared to 37 per cent who are unwilling.

In October, a gas tax of 2 cents per litre was added to pay for expanded transit services, including the proposed Evergreen Line.

Commute comparison

Nationally, 64 per cent of Vancouverites said they get to work or school via automobile compared to 53 per cent in Toronto and 51 per cent in Montreal.

A quarter of people in Vancouver commute using public transit, compared to 37 per cent in Toronto and 35 per cent in Montreal.

Fewer than 10 per cent of commuters in the three cities said walking was their preferred mode of commute.

The Leger Marketing survey was completed online from Nov. 11 to 15 with a sample of 500 Vancouver residents. The margin of error is 2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20.