To Toll Or Not to Toll – That is The Question

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There is a current push to implement Road Pricing or Road Tolls in the region by various levels of government, to help fund public transit. The problem is, Road pricing or tolling will not work unless there is a viable public transit alternative in place. There isn’t and road pricing will fail and those politicians who implemented Road Pricing will face electoral oblivion.

The problem is the region doesn’t have a viable public transit alternative as the present bus/SkyTrain light-metro model has failed to attract the motorist from the car, or more simply buses do not attract ridership. We have squandered over $8 billions of dollars to date on light-metro, where 80% of its ridership must first take a bus to use. Instead of three disjointed light-metro lines, the region could have had over nine light rail lines, serving more destinations; more destinations means a more attractive transit service. Nine LRT/streetcar lines translates in almost twenty-seven actual light rail routes, providing a network that would provide the incentive for the all important car driver to use.

We must also remember that road pricing isn’t as well received as many promoters here would have us think, even London’s Congestion Tax is not working as well as many would have us think, as congestion is again approaching pre-tax levels and goods and services have increased within the congestion zone as the cost of the tax is downloaded onto the consumer. Also kept secret is the amount of subsidy paid to businesses within the congestion zone who could show a loss of business to the new tax.

In Manchester, voters rejected a comprehensive road pricing scheme by a large margin, leaving transportation planning in tatters.

In theory, road pricing and/or congestion charging looks good, but in the real world there are many problems to overcome. For the METRO region, road pricing or congestion charging will only work if there is a viable public transit alternative and again, buses are not a viable alternative. Only when the METRO region adopts and offers a large light-rail, streetcar or trams network of 300 km. or more, will road pricing be accepted.

If not, woe to the politicians who forces this on to the public. 

From the UK Department of Transport.

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One Response to “To Toll Or Not to Toll – That is The Question”

  1. voony Says:

    “The problem is, Road pricing or tolling will not work unless there is a viable public transit alternative in place”
    Why?

    it doesn’t look to me there is a decent pulic transit alternative to the Golden Ear crossing or future PortMann bride crossing…

    “road pricing” is in effect on the LowerMainland-Vancouver Island ferry route (with halfprice on weekday of the summer) without decent public transit alternative…

    and it seems that road pricing is working there… so why your statement?

    Zweisystem replies: The first statement is paraphrased from several transportation experts who have worked on the congestion charge problem and have written many articles on the subject – For road pricing to succeed, one must have a viable public transit alternative. Your last statement is gibberish.

    Road pricing is a political decision, which can be reversed with change of government. Not well know here, London’s famed congestion tax is on the verge of being discontinued, because (1) it is politically expedient to do so and (2) it’s not working a well as what is being claimed here.

    You confuse bridge tolls with road pricing and there is also the looming problem of Vancouver pricing itself out of the regional market, where companies may relocate South of the boarder where there is no extra taxes to be paid.

    The great fear here is that Road pricing, like the Carbon/RAV tax, maybe a general tax by an out of control tax and spend government and as such will not achieve what its promoters expect it to.

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