VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – How much you pay to get around, be it by car, bike, or bus, could change.
The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission is releasing a report Wednesday about lower mainland traffic congestion and pricing.
Mobility pricing looks at everything from road maintenance, transit fares, parking fees, and gas prices.
Transportation expert Gordon Price with Simon Fraser University’s Centre for Dialogue says the province cutting tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges has limited their options to charge for transportation.
“The entire transportation system is going to be affected by how we measure what people are doing and charge them something appropriate to that.”
He says drivers and transit users can argue over what’s fair between tolls or fare hikes, but he points to Oregon as a state that has charged alternatives to a gas tax. …
Is road pricing the fairest way to go?
“No one knows what that is, but you can count on one thing: if I’m being charged more, it’s not fair,” he laughs. …
Ride-hailing has also been on municipal minds and it adds a new wrinkle to mobility pricing.
“Imagine something like a combination of Uber and Amazon coming to a town and saying they’d like to buy the transit system, the road system that could be tolled, car share, bike share, taxis, parking, anything that could be priced. We’d like to sell it as a service package of transportation choices – just as Shaw, Rogers or Telus offers telecommunications. (You get a package of services – phone, internet, mobile – for one monthly fee without ever knowing the price of a single cell phone call. But the next call always seems to be free.)
“If you could offer people – regardless of whether they drive, take transit, cycle, or all of the above – unfettered access to the entire transportation system, but charge them only once, that sounds pretty good, right? You don’t have to own a car, insure or maintain it, or constantly upgrade for the latest fast-changing technology. The service provider does all that.
“If the package on average is about $500 a month, the service provider has a cash flow as great as any company or even government – and the ability to borrow against it. It’s huge. They become bigger than many governments. And you can imagine the issues of regulation and control over transport investment that involves.
“But once the bond is broken between the user and personal ownership of a vehicle (and government can consequently tax the service provider, not the driver), then the politics of transportation is changed fundamentally. The Mobility Pricing Commission should be thinking about a future more like that than the current situation which will inevitably change.”
The commission is expected to make a final recommendation to TransLink’s board of directors in spring 2018.
“This would be impossible to consider doing without a lot of public consultation,” Price continues.
“There’s no way politicians can move on an issue like radical change on pricing on transportation unless they have some kind of mandate to do so.”
The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission is doing more research and more speaking with the public over the next few months.
Before that, they will release their initial findings Wednesday at noon at the University of British Columbia’s Robson Square campus.