October 28, 2016

Forum: Transportation Challenge – Nov 3

Nov 3
5:30- 7:30 pm
Roundhouse Community Centre
Details and registration here.

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  1. “confusion over shared transportation alternatives, and an infrastructure unable to handle a growing population”
    Sounds like fun.

    1. I love apples and oranges, particularly when trying to compare them to each other….
      Seattle’s reflects the proposed funding sources needed to cover a massive capital expansion and contribute to operating expenses. So that 13% slice reflects incremental motor vehicle contributions over and above what is already collected. And that 16% ‘Existing Sound Transit’ slice includes a car rental tax, and motor vehicle excise tax, so….
      TransLink’s reflects actual, current funding used for operating costs only. 2015 Annual report has Fuel, Parking & Golden Ears at 29% of operating revenue.
      Why are we doing this?

        1. Perhaps. But also note that 50% of the operating costs of Metro transit are permanently recovered through tolls . . . er, the farebox. What road system does that?

      1. @A: The two taxes you mention (a car rental tax, and motor vehicle excise tax) are .08 and .01%, respectively. The other 11.9% comes from other sources including property taxes.
        Much like British Columbia law regarding other sources of funding for transit, Sound Transit is authorized to assess an employer tax of $2 per employee, but doesn’t currently. To collect this tax, the agency would have to get voter approval.
        This is exactly why Metro Vancouver had to have a plebiscite. It seems amazing that Metro Vancouver thought they and TransLink were so highly regarded and had the public’s support, yet failed so profoundly. Mayor Derek Corrigan of Burnaby was just about the only local public figure against the TransLink plan and voters in Burnaby were strongly against the plan too, with 64.94 per cent voting No.

        1. Plebiscite If we HAD to have one for transit. then there HAS to be one to pay for the Christie Crossing revenue shortfalls. To late now for Golden Ears & Port Mann

        2. If the mayors actually increased property taxes, as they could, and increased parking fees on residential streets, as they could, we’d have the required $s for more transit. They just chose not to, just whine, and point fingers to the evil province. Transit can be funded if the local councils act as they should. Since they chose not to lead, i.e. increase property taxes or institute parking fees on publicly owned road space (outside of downtown) we have to wait.
          In time, we will get road tolls/road pricing, but to get better transit systems cities need to fund more, but they chose not to. They instead expect 90% of the money to come from province or feds. WHY ?

        3. Because it’s our money! That’s WHY! It is collected from us by the province and the feds. It isn’t some gift collected from others. It makes more sense for senior governments to fund sporadic, capital-intense projects because they have more money to focus on a given location at a given time.

        4. Do you see any hint from Justin, BFF of Gregor, that the Feds could lower taxes and thereby give some room to Gregor to raise property taxes? This would shift the balance to the cities, which is what Gregor has been asking for. I know the BC Liberals lowered taxes for all, giving all municipalities the opportunity to secure more funding by moving in and capturing that reduction.

        5. @Eric, actually the existing Sound Transit funding sources are (1) Sales Tax, (2) Motor Vehicle Excise, and (3) Rental Car tax. There is no property tax in Sound Transit’s existing funding model. And your math doesn’t add up to 16%.
          I’m still waiting on an explanation for why you were attempting to compare shares of motor vehicle contributions.
          If it is as Bob surmises, and you’re trying to highlight a strong reliance on motor vehicle user fees to pay for transit service, than (1) I’d recommend comparing apples-to-apples, and (2) tell us all something we don’t know. Most cities in the world view cross-subsidy between transportation modes as essential to providing transport options.
          “Much like British Columbia law regarding other sources of funding for transit, Sound Transit is authorized to assess an employer tax of $2 per employee, but doesn’t currently….This is exactly why Metro Vancouver had to have a plebiscite.”
          You lost me. So your initial purpose of posting two non-comparable charts with a focus on motor vehicle contributions was ultimately to highlight that two government agencies in different countries have to build trust with their electorate if they want to seek additional taxation power? That’s an impressive non-germane pivot.

        6. “I know the BC Liberals lowered taxes for all, giving all municipalities the opportunity to secure more funding by moving in and capturing that reduction.”
          Which taxes have been ‘lowered for all’?
          Since 2012, corporate rates have increased from 10% to 11%.
          Small business has stayed steady at 2.5%.
          Personal income taxes for those over $150K increased briefly and were than reduced. All other brackets have remained the same for ~5-years.
          Are you referring to the cuts in 2001, that were accompanied by reductions in services? If so, we should probably hold Gregor accountable for not taking advantage of that extra tax room at the time, right?

        7. We also need to shed the double-speak that transit is subsidized by motorists. Only when motorists have paid the real costs of the roads they use can there be any money left to contribute to something else.
          I believe the “transit tax” on gas is quite intentionally designed to label transit users as beggars. The term is simply a reinforcement of our collective story that car owners are superior and successful to the point of generosity and transit riders are inferior losers in need of help.

        8. ‘A’ makes some valid points, yet, the Seattle Rental Car Tax is .08%.
          TransLink gets 21% from Metro Vancouver drivers from the Parking Tax.
          TransLink also gets 15% tax paid from gasoline.
          TransLink also receives funding from Bridge Tolls.
          TransLink also receives a 3% annual increase in it’s share of Property Tax (Seattle is limited by law to a 1% per annum increase).
          You may well say, Vive la difference.
          I strongly believe that the idea of squeezing money out of drivers is dangerous for society. The wealthy will not care about the cost and all commercial vehicles will increase costs to pay for the increases in transit taxes, so the society moves further into a widening gap of the rich and the poor.

        9. You obviously drive for a living Eric. I sympathize. However, the overall impact of the automobile on society has been very steep, and this needs to change. That impact includes on public finances for all the support infrastructure, to mitigate the devastation to human health, and to remediate the environmental effects. All of these have been well-documented.
          One more time, here are the facts. Transit has a perpetual 50% operating cost recovery mechanism. There are no fareboxes on roads. The total tax revenue taken from cities is 90% more than that delivered back. The province takes 40% of tax revenue, and the feds 50%. Funding for transit therefore should not require more than a 10% share from cities.

        10. The overall impact of the automobile is indeed very steep and that’s steep in many ways that are very good. There are many types of vehicles on the roads, primarily they are there for utilitarian reasons. This is why the number of vehicles continues to grow, everywhere. In fact, contrary to pseudo informed belief vehicle sales this century have almost doubled in the past 16 years.
          Vehicles will naturally change as always. Vehicles today are far more efficient and less polluting than ever before.We can only be encouraged with new sales because those newer vehicles are often replacing older clunkers and are indeed better for the atmosphere.
          The Metro region is burdened with limitations of living space partly due to the Agricultural Land Reserve, which means that residential developments have to be located beyond the immediate reserve lands of south Vancouver, Richmond and Delta. This consequently means that fast (rail) transit to the growing residential regions is difficult from a cost perspective. The fall-back is therefore roads.
          Substantial and wide roads are required for commercial, services and emergency usage, as well as for the capability of trades people and others that need to access varying parts of the region.
          Commuters will hop on a train, if it’s there. We’ve seen this with the Canada Line. A bus, to a lesser degree.
          I agree with Andrew Coyne (SFU 2014) that transit should be competitive and private operators should be permitted. These days Gregor and Co wouldn’t dream of letting in Uber, so we can be sure that TransLink is save with their monopoly. Although, Sunny Ways Justin just announced that foreign and private investors are now welcome to come in and get into transit and infrastructure projects. These are going to need profits for those investors, so the model might have to shift.
          Had that massive area of east Richmond cranberry fields developed as residential it could have been interlaced with a SkyTrain system linking to the other lines. This would be far more like the transit systems we see around so many European cities. Instead, the growth is further out. Those inner ALR lands will increasingly look like anachronisms. As artifacts from the past. Something Disney would have idyllically created. The big city with all the big buildings and the nice pretty farms around the edges. Norman Rockwell would be perfect to sell this.

        11. @Eric, 10/31, 11:09am
          Apples and Oranges again….
          The rental car tax for Sound Transit is 0.8% of total rental vehicle revenue….not 0.08%.
          Why are you looking at the percentage applied to the taxable good, rather than the share of the agency’s revenue generated?
          Sound Transit’s sales tax is 0.9% of regional sales, but generates ~80% of their revenue….those are two very different percentages.
          TransLink doesn’t gather 15% gasoline tax, they gather $0.17/L excise tax. This accounts for 22% of their operating revenue.
          TransLink does apply 21% to parking rates. This account for 4% of their operating revenue.
          “You may well say, Vive la difference.”
          When you’re comparing apples and oranges, the difference is indeed stark.

        12. A record $360,388,000 from fuel tax, that’s what TransLink reports.
          TransLink, 2016
          “Taxation Revenues account for 57 per cent of the Total Funded Revenue, with the majority coming from fuel and property taxation.
          Fuel tax revenues for 2016 are estimated to increase $10. 4 million (3. 0 per cent) to $360. 4 million,
          Parking Rights taxation revenue for 2016 is budgeted to increase $1. 7 million over the 2015 forecast, reflecting increased Vehicle Kilometres Travelled (VKT) within the Metro Vancouver region.
          Fuel tax revenues for 2016 are estimated to increase $10. 4 million (3. 0 per cent) to $360. 4 million, building on the strong consumption trend realized in 2015.
          Total transit revenue is expected to decrease by $1. 1 million (0.2 per cent) from the 2015 forecast. The decrease is due to an expected increase in utilization of discounted products, slightly offset by expected increases in ridership, contracted U-Pass BC student rate increases and additional revenue from reduced fare evasion.”
          What is clear is that ridership is increasing while fare receipts are down. Yet money from drivers of vehicles not using the transit system is UP.
          As I’ve said before. The income gap only increases with this system.
          Here’s a gem to wonder about.
          “Corporate One Time
          One-time costs in the 2016 budget are $42. 6 million, consisting of Rapid Transit Studies ($12. 3 million), Evergreen Extension start-up costs ($4. 1 million), Pattullo Bridge replacement studies ($6 million), Compass and Fare Gate project start-up costs ($7. 8 million), mobility pricing ($0. 9 million) and contingency provision per TransLink’s policy ($11. 3 million).”

        13. Loving these apples and oranges….
          “What is clear is that ridership is increasing while fare receipts are down. Yet money from drivers of vehicles not using the transit system is UP.”
          Let’s test that….
          Actual vs. Actual results (from TransLink 2016 Financial Report – June 30th): http://www.translink.ca/-/media/Documents/about_translink/corporate_overview/corporate_reports/quarterly_reports/2016/Financial_and_Performance_Report_06_30_2016.pdf
          Fuel Tax (Jan-Jun 2015): $176,440
          Fuel Tax (Jan-Jun 2016): $189,839 (+7.6%)
          Parking Tax (Jan-Jun 2015): $29,820
          Parking Tax (Jan-Jun 2016): $33,211 (+11.4%)
          Fare Revenue (Jan-Jun 2015): $249,354
          Fare Revenue (Jan-Jun 2016): $260,807 (+4.6%)
          Some interesting observations for you Eric:
          1. In a strong economy, revenues from all sources are up, surprise!
          2. It looks like “drivers” are kicking in ~$17M more and “transit users” are kicking in ~$11.5M more. I predict devastating inequality induced riots next week.
          2-1. Who are these “drivers of vehicles not using the transit system”? I own a car, drive, pay to fuel it, pay to park it, ride my bike 3-4 days a week and take transit at least weekly. Am I “transit user”, “driver of vehicle not using the transit system” or something different? Why do you feel the need to polarize this into an “us and them” debate? Does it help your narrative?
          3. Wholly cow! $42.6M….or a whopping 3% of a regional planning agency’s budget to do….regional planning studies?!? Who would have thought.
          I can understand your view that transit should not fall too heavily on the backs of a single user group, but backing it up with false or cherry-picked stats doesn’t help your narrative. If we’re to actually engage in a debate on a topic such as “Should the proportion of funding for transportation from road users be reduced, remain the same, or increase?” we first have to agree on the underlying facts.
          This assumes you actually want to debate this of course….if your intention is simply to push a position, facts or not, well than….

  2. A road tax is like a GST, PST or CO2 increase as roads are used by all for good and people movement.
    One reason why we have so much foreign investment here into properties is that our property taxes ARE SO LOW. If we tripled them, and cut provincial income taxes to zero, we’d monetize this new gold called “urban real estate”. But we do not, and as such we get more and more people here that underpay for infrastructure.
    More properties = more road or transit is required.
    A very simple equation.
    The more people come who need housing the more we have to invest in infrastructure. As such we ought to collect more from properties. That is to a rale degree in teh cities’ jurisdiction and to a lesser degree provincial.
    Texas has a model of fairly high consumption taxes (8% which is high for the US) and no state income taxes. Zip. 0. Null. But very high property taxes. That is a model to study and emulate ! It would create jobs and tax newcomers incl. immigrants & tourists that chose to clog our streets and subways in ever greater numbers.
    As Eric mentioned, feds and provinces could tax less and give cities more tax room.

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