Richmond wants ICBC to start tracking private vehicle odometer data

Since the AirCare program wrapped up in 2014, odometers of private vehicles haven't been tracked. The City of Richmond wants that to change and for cities to be able to know how much driving is done by residents.

Staff, mayor say data would be useful for planning purposes and evaluating transportation projects

The City of Richmond says if ICBC started tracking vehicle odometer data and sharing it with cities, it would be helpful for planning. (Bjoern Wylezich/Shutterstock)

The City of Richmond wants ICBC to start recording odometer data from motorists when they renew their insurance.

City staff reported having that data would be useful for cities to have for transport, land-use and sustainability planning purposes and says not having data on vehicle kilometres travelled (VKT) is a "significant gap" in the city's knowledge.

"While data on the total number of vehicles is available, there is no accurate data on how much these vehicles have been driven (and what tonnage of emissions they have emitted) in a given year," the report said.

"VKT data on a neighbourhood basis would enable the city to see how driving habits are affected by land-use change (e.g. neighbourhood densification and/or introduction of new housing types), by transportation improvements and by other factors."

The report calls on ICBC to record odometer data and pass it on to cities. It calls on it to strip the data of identifying information and make it clear to insurance purchasers the data will not impact what they pay for insurance.

It does, however, note that tracking VKT would be needed for a region-wide mobility pricing initiative, which the Metro Vancouver Mayors' Council has called for.

Province has privacy, cost concerns

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie says the data will be useful for evaluating the impacts of major transportation projects like the Evergreen Line but denied the request was about the city's long-running war-of-words with the province over the Massey Tunnel's proposed replacement with a 10-lane bridge.

He says the end of the AirCare program, which did collect that data in Metro Vancouver, has left a hole in what cities know about drivers.

"If you want real information on driving habits … then more specific information is very helpful," he said. "I think there are real reasons to collect this data and there would be a real benefit."

A Ministry of Transportation spokeswoman, speaking for ICBC, wrote in an email they are aware of Richmond's request.

She said there are a number of cost and privacy considerations that would need to be addressed before implementing data collection like this and once a request is formally received, its feasibility will be examined.