Paul Hillsdon and Nathan Pachal – two young transportation bloggers – have offered an option for funding transit in this region.

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Leap Ahead

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I’ll post more from the document later, but here’s their summary:

Based on over a year’s worth of research, the Leap Ahead proposal provides a clear path forward on stalled transit expansion plans. If implemented, Leap Ahead would unlock $15 billion in economic benefits and provide rapid transit to every part of Metro Vancouver.

In line with regional and provincial priorities, Leap Ahead would fund the immediate construction of significant transit infrastructure including:

  • UBC SkyTrain
  • South Fraser LRT & B-Line
  • Expo Line Upgrades
  • SFU Gondola
  • Marine Drive (North Shore) B-Line
  • Hastings B-Line
  • 41 Ave B-Line
  • Hwy 7 B-Line
  • Hwy 1 B-Line
  • Hwy 99 B-Line
  • 200 St B-Line

The Leap Ahead plan concludes that a 0.5% regional sales tax is the most comprehensive and affordable solution to fund the region’s share of the plan. Voter-approved regional sales taxes have been successfully introduced in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Denver for similar transit expansions. With a 2% decrease in the federal GST and 0.5% decrease in the PST over the last decade, there is room for the proposed sales tax. A 0.5% regional sales tax would amount to just $0.35 per day, per resident.

The Leap Ahead plan will:

  • Provide $21.5 billion in economic returns and produce a net benefit of $15 billion for taxpayers
  • Support 234,000 jobs over 30 yearsExpand the system from 65 to 138 rapid transit stations
  • 33 times more than the $1 billion South Fraser Perimeter Road
  • Nearly 4 times more than the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline
  • Introduce rapid transit to every part of the region including Surrey, White Rock, Langley, Maple Ridge & the North Shore

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My comment:

“Do not – repeat, do not – junk-click this document,” said Gordon Price who is the director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University. “This one you want to read. I’ve seen enough of these proposals to know that Pachal and Hillsdon and have a pretty realistic sense of what kind of transit system might make sense for our future, and an idea for funding that might have a realistic chance of passage.”

“Whether you care about the future of Metro Vancouver or just the short-term politics of transit funding and referenda, Pachal and Hillsdon have some ideas worth considering,” Price continued. “At this point, they may have the only ideas worth considering, since everyone else seems to be waiting for somebody else to lead.  And they have.”

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The Sun’s coverage here.

The province has rejected a vehicle levy and carbon tax, and said any other  funding sources must go to a referendum ahead of B.C.’s municipal elections next  year.

The Leap Ahead plan suggests neither a vehicle levy nor road pricing are  appropriate, “as drivers cannot be reasonably be asked to shoulder the entire  burden without realistic transit options.”

Richard Walton, chairman of the mayors’ council, said while a “marginal  increase in sales tax would provide a significant boost to transit in the  region,” it doesn’t put the onus on those using the roads for people and goods  movement.

“We cannot isolate planning and funding from the movement of people and  goods,” he said.

The mayors’ council will meet with B.C. Transportation Minister Todd Stone  next week to discuss funding options. Walton said while the question of sales  tax may make it as part of a referendum question, he’s not sure the provincial  government would be willing to accept it, noting unlike in the U.S., the sales  tax here is a “critical component” in funding education and health care.

Walton also argued that 35 cents a day could be a hardship for some families,  as this calculates to about $50 per month for a family of four.

“We did put it in there but it was not put in with the expectation this would  be the prime source,” he said.

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UPDATE:  Here’s 24 Hours coverage.  Note in the comments how quick respondents turn the issue into one of TransLink’s competence.