I’ve been surprised at the benign press coverage of current efforts to design a BC-specific mobility pricing scheme. Lord knows, there’s ample scope here for rabid opposition — but we haven’t seen it yet. At least not in any noisy, media-darling, big, well-financed, organized way, as occurred during a certain recent referendum.
Here’s part of the reason: the sources of support for mobility pricing. As an example, this 2016 short report from the BC Chamber of Commerce: The Need For an Innovative Approach to Transportation For An Increasingly Urban Province (2016).
Note the several nods to much more transit, its funding, and its key role in congestion control; and a quick nod to “. . . smart growth land use policies”, which usually means compact, centered, complete and connected. I.E. the opposite of the freeway-sprawl model.
Transportation and Infrastructure
Lack of Demand Management Techniques
Mobility pricing is a means to directly charge levies for the use of roads, including road tolls, distance or time based fees, congestion charges. Such charges are designed to provide funding, but more importantly influence congestion by discouraging driving on certain routes, discouraging travel at peak times, and encouraging the use of transit options . . . .
. . . A key to B.C.’s long-term success will be strategic and long-term investment in high-quality public transit. With a road pricing model, users need the ability to choose and have the appropriate incentives to choose public transit. Transit investments by themselves will not reduce roadway congestion. However, they become more effective at reducing congestion if they are a critical component of a comprehensive strategy that includes complementary road pricing, mobility management strategies, and smart growth land use policies . . .
. . . Numerous studies, along with empirical evidence from around the world, clearly demonstrate that simply building new roads and other infrastructure in the absence of demand management techniques, including quality public transit options, will not alleviate congestion in the long run. In other words, in the B.C. context it is not one, or the other, but both.
THE CHAMBER RECOMMENDS
That the Provincial Government:
1. Commit to funding transportation infrastructure investment and implementing policies that are equitable, efficient, and contains basic traffic demand management principles;
2. Make as a prerequisite of these visions, the need for investment in public transit to provide viable alternatives to single passenger vehicle travel;
3. Commit to working with regional stakeholders and agencies to implement an urban mobility pricing model as a foundation for sustainable transportation funding, including revising B.C.’s provincial tolling policy to positively affect the fiscal sustainability of existing and future transportation projects; and
4. Review the financial impacts of implementing an urban mobility pricing model with the objective of eventually replacing the gas taxes in concentrated urban areas as a means to generating necessary public support.