New tolls suggested for Metro Vancouver drivers
Vehicle registration fees and per-kilometre charges also considered
A confidential TransLink report says charging tolls on many more roads in Metro Vancouver could raise the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to make our transit system work.
The report, Evaluation of Revenue Sources to Support Transportation Improvements, makes a number of fundraising suggestions, but possibly most contentious among them is what’s called "road pricing."
The system could be implemented by charging for vehicles at major exit and entry points to the region, like bridges and tunnels.
'It's a very efficient investment of taxpayer dollars.'—Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson
A $1.60 toll on vehicles would bring in at least $100 million a year, according to one estimate in the report.
Other options include imposing a toll for each kilometre a vehicle is driven on main roads, suggested at 67 cents per kilometre, or charging vehicle registration fees of $35 and $105.
As hugely unpopular as they might be, user fees makes sense, according to UBC transportation professor Robin Lindsey, because funding needs to be raised somehow for road construction and maintenance, and for transit.
"Road pricing is a very good tool for addressing that," Lindsey told CBC News. "You can price the roads according to how much congestion there is, you can do it by time of day, which I think was one of the suggestions, and I strongly support that."
Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson reasons that road pricing is cheaper in the long run.
"It's an investment in better transit around the region and reducing traffic and congestion," Robertson said Friday. "We need to keep investing on that. It's a very efficient investment of taxpayer dollars that reduce the overall cost of living."
A few Lower Mainland drivers that CBC News spoke to weren’t seeing the logic.
"Not liking that at all," said one. "I already pay enough in taxes that I don't feel like I need to pay to drive on a certain road."
"I guess it wouldn't really deter me from driving, but it would sure be another hole in my wallet," said another.
Final revenue-increasing recommendations from TransLink are expected to be completed and forwarded to the province in the next few weeks.
With files from the CBC's Alan Waterman