October 12, 2017

The Cost Of Not Pricing Roads

Like most big Canadian cities, congestion in Metro Vancouver is a result of having a road network that is underpriced and overused. This has made driving “artificially cheap in terms of money, and artificially expensive in terms of time (*)” 
Road Pricing In Metro Vancouver — Jonathan Arnold (2013)

mobility-pricing-logo_origToday the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission is working towards finishing their report on or around April 30, 2018. But the rest of us debate or wonder about this vast and complex topic in a near-vacuum.
Never fear, PT abhors a vacuum.  HERE’s a 59-page report on road pricing written in 2013 for the Business Council of BC (“Where Leaders Meet . . . “). The author (Jonathan Arnold) was, at the time,  working on a co-op term at the Council as part of his SFU graduate public policy degree program.  It’s big: it’s got a bibliography; it’s got footnotes; it’s got 132 references; it’s got tables.
To quote the BCBC:

Jonathan’s paper provides useful background information as well as a concise survey of the main policy, regulatory and fiscal tools used by leading jurisdictions around to world to support the efficient use of urban road networks.

Some excerpts from Mr. Arnold’s 2013 paper (Executive Summary and Conclusions):

Looking at trends of congestion and transportation infrastructure in Metro Vancouver, it is clear that the current trajectory is not sustainable. The road transportation  infrastructure network is ageing and, in many areas, operating above capacity. At the same time, the region is growing at a steady pace, with limited space to accommodate projected increases in passenger and freight traffic. The region is expected to welcome an additional 1.4 million residents by 2041 which, by 2011 estimates, could result in 700,000 more vehicles vying for road space . . .
. . Like most big Canadian cities, congestion in Metro Vancouver is a result of having a road network that is underpriced and overused. This has made driving
“artificially cheap in terms of money, and artificially expensive in terms of time.” . . .
Implementing road pricing is complex and raises significant challenges, involving issues of equity and fairness, political constraints, considerations for business and industry, and public acceptability. As with any policy which increases the price of an essential good, road pricing generates vocal opposition. But as demonstrated in other regions and cities around the world, these challenges are surmountable over time, with clear and concerted leadership.
Based on the research and successful implementation in other jurisdictions, pricing road infrastructure in Metro Vancouver is a viable option.
. . . Overall, in order to develop a more sustainable vision of transportation, a shift in how we value and view mobility is required. Although it is an uncomfortable concept for many, road pricing represents a shift in thinking that could significantly alleviate the region’s gridlock, improve transportation infrastructure, and make the region a more prosperous and cleaner place to live.

Amen to that.
And Arnold’s quick overview of three general categories of mobility pricing schemes:

1. Distance-based charges: road users are charged based on the amount driven, and can offer a great degree of choice and flexibility in how people pay for road use. This form of road pricing typically uses GPS technology to track the distances of road users. Alternatively, annual or semi-annual odometer inspections are another, less-intrusive, way of monitoring distance travelled. This form of pricing can be
augmented by charging road users according to their vehicle’s size and emissions. Distance-based charging has been implemented in Germany, the Netherlands, and Oregon.
2. Tolling major infrastructure: places user-fees on using strategic pieces of infrastructure, such as bridges, tunnels and highways. Tolls can either be a flat rate (i.e. if the primary goal is revenue generation) or can be priced according to traffic levels (i.e. if reducing congestion is the primary goal). The Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges are two examples from Metro Vancouver. Other examples include: the 407 highway in Toronto, the MacDonald and McKay bridges in Halifax, the I-15 highway in San Diego, California, and the major highway network in Melbourne, Australia.
3. Area-based charges: place a boundary around a portion of the city and charge users to enter and/or leave the cordon area. This system works best to alleviate congestion and traffic in well-defined and very dense downtown cores. The charges are typically adjusted to reflect the time of day and discourage traffic during peak travel periods. Based on its geography and traffic patterns, area pricing has been adopted in Singapore, London, Stockholm, Bergen, and Trondheim.

(*)  Andrew Coyne, MacLeans.ca, “Stuck In Traffic” (January 2011). A terrific analysis of the mobility pricing issue from the policy and reaction point of view.

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  1. I’d be surprised if Option 1 was not chosen as the preferred in April. It has the most equitable ring to it and is the easiest to kick down the road. A great excuse to do nothing until the perfect system appears from the heavens.

  2. While pricing roads is all fine and dandy in principle, it is best sold when other taxes are LOWERED as always raising taxes or user fees is hitting high resistance levels these days. Which ones are being lowered ? PST ? Income taxes ? property taxes ? Gasoline taxes ?
    As we saw from the vote buying by eliminating the PM bridge toll, it will be a tough sell for longer distance commuters. Very tough.
    Missing is pricing of road use when not driving ie parking.
    btw: Why do we find road pricing so sensible here though but healthcare or school pricing (say beyond grade 9) objectionable ?

    1. It makes most sense to eliminate gas taxes (but not carbon levies) since this tax is on a downward trend. We could, however, add distance based insurance as that will save money for a majority of drivers.

    2. “…best sold when other taxes are lowered”…
      Yes, this is essential to the political problem of selling the idea, as we saw with the carbon tax. It will be a lot easier to sell if it’s framed as a replacement for the gas tax, and if it’s promoted as a way ease congestion. I’ve said before that they should give it a catchy name like “SpeedSense” combined with a logo that uses the “cents” symbol to emphasize the benefits and push the idea that it’s inexpensive.
      “Why do we find road pricing so sensible here though but healthcare or school pricing (say beyond grade 9) objectionable”
      Healthcare demand isn’t as inexhaustible as road use is – people don’t generally make extra trips to the hospital just because it’s free. The same is true of education, which is a big commitment for the student in terms of time and effort. Plus, a certain minimal level of education is understood as being necessary for people to lead productive lives, and that’s an overall benefit to society.

  3. “artificially cheap in terms of money, and artificially expensive in terms of time.”
    Damn! I love that phrase! That could be (with tweaks) the centerpiece of the road pricing roll out advertising campaign.
    As evidenced by the recent jump in volume on the now untolled bridges, road pricing does reduce road usage. What’s needed though is good, reliable, and convenient transit options that people can move to. If you don’t make a good alternative available people will just grit their teeth and keep driving.

    1. Post
  4. Andrew Coyne makes some important points.
    “that tolls would become a cash cow for governments, the simple answer is that any revenues from tolls can and should be used to lower taxes ”
    “Indeed, it may even be necessary to go so far as a plan put forward recently by the Social Market Foundation, a British think tank. It proposed putting ownership of the road system in a public trust, at arm’s length from the government. At the end of the year, all toll revenues would be distributed to every member of the public—the trust’s shareholders.
    “Which means discarding one of the most common arguments made for tolls: that the revenues could be used to finance public transit. For starters, this is unnecessary: the very act of tolling roads would, by itself, make public transit more competitive, ”
    Not forgetting:
    “If getting more people to use transit is your aim, moreover, subsidies are the last thing you should want. The biggest factor in people’s decision whether to use transit is not the fares, but rather the speed, comfort and convenience relative to other options: that is, the passenger experience. And the surest means of forcing transit operators to pay more attention to the passenger experience is if their livelihoods depend on it. The greater the share of revenues paid for by passengers themselves, the more operators are likely to be lying awake at night thinking up ways to put bums in the seats; subsidies simply insulate them from that concern.”
    Is the Mayors’ Council of Metro Vancouver prepared to accept these facts or are they stuck wanting drivers to pay for their transit plans, infrastructure and operations?
    Judging from the ‘usual suspects’ lined up in their “Independent Commission” it seems they have not changed.

    1. Yes we need a carrot and a stick, but if the stick is too big and used too fast and the carrot very wilty people will object. Both have to be developed in parallel with carrot ideally very visible.
      For example: if you toll folks in N Van and W Van to use Lionsgate and/or Second Narrows and do not offer a new train to and along N-Shore you’ll get massive backlash. Just a new SeaBus won’t do. Ditto with missing rapid transit to UBC or deeper into S-Van or Richmond.

    2. I agree that in the long term eliminating road subsidies should eliminate the need for transit subsidies. But we have a long long way to go in investments for transit to get it on an equal footing with the investments we have made in roads. We should quickly eliminate road subsidies but gradually phase out transit subsidies. Our horrible land use patterns have to change to allow the viability of mobility options. It took more than half a century to create the problem. It will likely take as long to fix it. We’ll likely need to subsidize transit during most of that transition.
      “The biggest factor in people’s decision whether to use transit is not the fares, but rather the speed, comfort and convenience relative to other options: that is, the passenger experience.”
      Spoken by someone who doesn’t work two marginal jobs to make ends meet. We have to make sure that transit is accessible to all. Do we want overlapping services with different levels of frequency, comfort and cost? There has been backlash against separate doors into single buildings that have market and non-market partitions. But perhaps the answer is multi-level services.
      Transit is currently not subsidized, is affordable and is fairly frequent in the parts of town where many people can’t afford to live. It is heavily subsidized, less affordable and infrequent as housing prices fall toward the fringes. Again, we can’t look at transit in isolation from housing affordability within the city or mixed use density throughout the region. The farther you need to travel the more it will cost you and society. It’s why I prefer a shift toward more localized, networked and inexpensive LRT/trams as opposed to long distance grade-separated feats of expensive engineering. The latter is a holdover and nod to sprawl.

      1. Public transit user experience is often slow, wobbly, over-heated and crowded. With this experience one cannot lure a majority of car users to a bus.
        Many people will gladly pay the toll if there is less traffic on the road and it flows faster. GLADLY.
        Keep in mind also that energy and transportation price increases generally act like a GST increase ie everything will be more expensive. As such, GST or PST moderation is in order as we tout renewable energy or road tolls !

  5. Translink receives two thirds of its income from so called “Government Transfers”. These are subsidies from a whole range of taxes on unrelated items. Gas Tax, Property Tax, Electric Utility Tax, Parking Tax. As transit expands the taxes expand because each and every ride on transit is financed mostly through subsidies.
    page 26 Translink annual report.

    1. Incorrect! Many urban bus routes run at a profit. But you need higher density and mixed use to achieve that. Urban transit riders subsidize suburban transit riders who demand service but flee the very thing that makes it economically viable.
      Urban residents also subsidize suburban motorists who drive on our local roads for free, Gas taxes do not fund local roads.

      1. Translink’s words Ron. The first item Translink mentions elaborating on where 2/3rds of their earnings comes from is Gas Tax Transfers.

        1. Doesn’t matter who’s words. They are still incorrect.
          The Gas Tax Transfer is just accounting smoke and mirrors as well. If motorists aren’t covering the full cost of roads they don’t have anything left to contribute to anything else.
          You can’t contribute to a charity if you can’t pay your rent.
          TransLink gas taxes have always been about making transit look like a charity funded by the egalitarian motorist. On average, both are subsidized and both collect a part of their costs from the user. Except in the city core where most transit passengers pay the full cost or more.

        2. Roads are paid for from PST, property taxes and gasoline taxes. Everyone benefits. Even if you bike or walk only your yoghurt, bread or apples you buy walking or by bike do not get there by bike or a walker. They get driven there ON A ROAD. Society would collapse if roads are eliminated. Even the condo you live in downtown was built by trucks and hundreds of trades using equipment and material that used mainly roads to get there.
          Utilities (gas, water, sewer, electricity) needs road space to get to anyone’s house or condo, even if they have no car at all. As such public co-payment needs to be at least 50%, perhaps higher to 75% and user fee maybe only 20-30% as you need road space even if no one had a car.
          One could easily argue that the public co-payment of transit ought be far less than 50% as many do not use it at all as they walk everywhere or bike or take the car.

        3. “Society would collapse if roads are eliminated.”
          A typical Thomas argument. Completely meaningless since nobody is proposing that.
          The food I eat and the other things I consume take up a minuscule fraction of the road space of somebody who commutes by car. Ditto the space and wear and tear from my bike. The suburban commuter benefits from subsidized roads much more than I do. I’m willing to pay the true cost of my broccoli. I’m willing to pay the true cost of my cycling. I’m willing to subsidize the road space required for emergency services. I’m even willing to subsidize suburban transit users. I’m not willing to subsidize motorists.

        4. Please do. I already do. I pay property taxes in the municipality in which I do 99% of my cycling.
          But if I were to be charged specifically for my cycling demand I would expect motorists to be charged the same.

        5. I would love to have cycling be part of a road pricing scheme. According to research done at UBC, driving a car incurs a cost to society of $0.56/km while riding a bike offers a benefit to society of $0.15/km. Transit is almost break even.
          If road pricing were to be based on cost to society, then every km driven would cost $0;56 . For every km I cycle, I should get a credit of $0.15 . Not bad, considering that I cycle a few thousand km each year. Also, skytrain should be free while bus transit would cost pennies per trip.
          Cycling is like a money tree, the more that is invested in cycling infrastructure, the bigger the return.

        6. This sounds all splendid. We are not engineering a Paris or London though in the 1500s. We have a given infrastructure physical layout, incl ALR which is sacrosanct ie it can’t be touched (for whatever reason). Vancouver was built 100 or so years ago and grew from there .. with cars. Rebuilding will take time. I just hope we get some value for our precious $s and not just road tolls and nothing else. Even NDP voters drive cars (as we saw from the vote buying through the dropping the sensible PM bridge tolls) and as such I’d be surprised to see anything meaningful emerge the next 2-3 years, just penny nibbles here and there that do not really change behavior.
          The traffic jams will continue.
          But hey, let’s up immigration targets 50% from 300,000 today to 450,000 to create GDP growth .. lovely.

        7. Well, I’m willing to continue subsidizing motorists since even if I’m not driving I benefit indirectly through goods movement, rides from others, etc.
          What I don’t like is the the myth some motorists hold that they are the only ones not being subsidized.
          I think how roads are paid for should be part of the driver’s license test.
          The news media (who are owned by the same people who own the auto and oil industries) cleverly use the word “subsidy” when applied to any other mode yet make sure they always use the word “investment” when it comes to highways. This is where the myth starts.

        8. “The news media cleverly use the word “subsidy” when applied to any other mode yet make sure they always use the word “investment” when it comes to highways.
          Why propagate these false narratives to further a position? I have heard about “investment” in public transport just as much, and rightly so. When we invest in infrastructure, bike, public transit or roads, we are providing value, which is a public investment. Subsidies are part of the equation when talking about how something might be financed, but otherwise, this claim is baseless.

  6. There are some things about road pricing which don’t seem to be appreciated here. Road pricing is not the saviour it is touted as in terms of relieving congestion and making driving a beautiful thing. It is merely a cost borne by drivers, but it doesn’t change traffic appreciably. The bridge toll case illustrates this because when there are tolls, it moves drivers to other bridges, it doesn’t get people to stop driving. And in the case of the Port Mann bridge, faster, more convenient is not something many people are willing to pay for because they showed that with their feet, or tires, when they diverted to the slower, free bridge, so how does this help traffic?
    If you want to help traffic, you don’t price people off of it, that has been shown not to work, you build viable options that attract people off of it. That means far greater investment in public transport and that also takes many years to implement and huge cost, by the way. Then, when you have those options, you can look into road pricing, but hopefully you don’t have to because you attract people to alternatives because they exist.
    The other factor is that the rampant density push by Vision and the Liberals has resulted in greater congestion, more traffic due to construction too, and more cars in those densified areas. Proponents of more and more condo towers do not seem to make the connection to the impact it has on our roads. On top of that, changing traffic patterns in the downtown core to restrict movement causes more congestion again.
    Still, we don’t even have appreciable congestion in Vancouver, we have terrible traffic getting in and out, via bridges and the main roads. I can drive within the city, say Kits to downtown or Kits to Commercial, in no time at all and with little or modest traffic at virtually any time of day. Public transit to the same destinations takes about three times as long in most cases, which is why people love cars. Faster, more comfortable and easier than the options, despite the fact that it costs more. If driving already costs more, then why would road pricing change usage?

    1. “The other factor is that the rampant density push by Vision and the Liberals has resulted in greater congestion, more traffic due to construction too, and more cars in those densified areas.”
      How did the Liberals have any effect on density?
      Surely densifying downtown Vancouver is way better than suburban sprawl. 25% of Vancouver residents now walk to work. Also, improved cycling infrastructure has encouraged 10% if Vancouver residents to cycle to work. Surely this is a huge positive for those who take transit and for those who must drive.

      1. Really? 25% walk to work? Can you provide some evidence of this stat? The densification in terms of zoning and horse trading with developers is indeed largely Vision’s thing, but the BC Liberals have been all over supporting developers, as policy, especially as they have been funded so considerably by developers.

        1. Tin Robot, it may be true that Liberals supported developers but certainly not high density development. The Liberals were all about sprawl, gobbling up ALR and building freeways to try to support this misguided approach. Unfortunately, we all end up paying for this both in tax $ and in motor vehicle congestion.

        2. Jeff, that Trip Survey is really a flawed report by a city desperate to propagate an agenda. It uses 2,500 residents to gather data to represent 650,000 people. One of it’s claims is that 26% of Van residents have a car share membership, implying that a quarter of all residents use a car share service. There are under 2,200 car share cars in Van. So do you believe that about 162,000 people share just 2,200 cars, or could it be that all those memberships do not really fairly represent car share use? I suggest the latter based on the physical amount of cars available and that’s one reason I have issue with the information in this.
          Principally though, I just don’t accept that such a micro sample of individuals, people pre-disposed to want to take part in such a survey and so potentially already inclined to have a particular interest in the subject, is just not a very reliable survey. I’m sure you will disagree, but that’s why I don’t buy these figures.

    2. This sentence “. It is merely a cost borne by drivers, but it doesn’t change traffic appreciably. ” clearly is INCORRECT.
      Of course pricing changes behavior, otherwise everyone would have a beautiful high end Mercedes for $17 incl an oceanfront mansion for $35/month !
      Once all bridges are tolled say $5 and $10 at rush hour you will a massive shift in behavior to less travel, more car pooling, more bus use, or shift to off peak driving.
      If that behavior doesn’t shift, then try $10 or $20.
      Of course significant road cost increase will also increase cost of goods or services (like landscaping for condo buildings) appreciably like a PST or GST or energy cost increase. As such, the question is will property taxes, PST, GST or income taxes be reduced in lieu ? Or is the populace prepared to pay ever more for ever increased bureaucracy and regulations ?

      1. Of course significant road cost increase will also increase cost of goods or services (like landscaping for condo buildings) appreciably like a PST or GST or energy cost increase.
        Not necessarily. All that is needed is to exempt commercial vehicles from the road pricing regime. ICBC already has that information, so whether you’re charging based on mileage at renewal time, or using transponders, it can be done.
        In re-reading the comments above it seems that the only real argument that people have for opposing road pricing and similar things is “I don’t want to pay taxes!” Or more often “I don’t want to pay taxes for stuff that someone else uses!”
        I have to believe that most people have a more thoughtful and balanced approach than the ideologues at the CTF and Fraser Institute, and appreciate that transit, hospitals, schools and parks are shared resources, that they benefit everyone by improving our society, and that taxes are how we all share in providing them.
        If you’re going to describe transit funding as a”subsidy” you need to apply the same description to all of the supports for various corporate sectors like film or mining.
        (Offtopic: Now that we’ve killed off bridge tolls, what happens to Treo? I was amused yesterday in Pitt Meadows to see roadside displays more or less begging people to pay their tolls.)

        1. Road destroying and diesel belching trucks should be exempt from road pricing ? Why is that ? Is a plumber driving to work a commercial vehicle or only a cement truck ? How about a PhD candidate at UBC doing medical research pre-IPO. Is that commercial for his daily commute ? Or just the bread delivery truck ?

        2. Commercial Vehicles should definitely be part of any road pricing scheme. They can then recover their costs through increased price in goods and services. This will be good for everyone since roads will be less congested and commercial vehicles may well save money due to the reduced time factor. Very heavy trucks should pay a greatly increased fee since they are the ones most responsible for damage to roads due to their weight. This fee should be province wide.

      2. You are mixing two things up, Thomas. Road pricing and affording a Mercedes are two entirely different things. Perhaps your example is just too extreme to make sense. Pricing does have an impact, for sure, but not in taking cars off the road. Gas is double the price in the UK and Europe as it is here, but they have more congestion because people want to drive and so they just pay. Vancouver gas prices are the highest in North America, so shouldn’t it follow that we have less car use and less congestion? But it doesn’t, does it, so what does that tell you about pricing people off the road? It doesn’t happen. Pricing all bridges will amount to a tax on people for doing what they need to do. Raising it higher is just hurting more people.
        Clearly you have the view that beating people over the head until they get out of their cars is just fine, but I don’t believe the greater population supports this approach. You have to build a whole network of solutions that work together. You can’t just beat up on drivers without first providing viable and cost effective alternatives.
        And I’m not sure why Barry says the only real argument is people not wanting to pay more taxes or for stuff someone else uses. I don’t see that comment anywhere here. Of course we pay for healthcare and education whether we use hospitals or have kids going to school. Same with roads and public transit. That really is hardly “the only real argument”.

        1. I’m reacting to two recurring themes:
          1) We can’t have road pricing unless we eliminate some other tax. (which = “I don’t want to pay taxes.)
          2) Transit should be paid for by fares and not “subsidized” by government. (Which = “I don’t want to pay for something used by other people.”)
          I’m always partial to the idea that we should:
          a) determine what public services are needed for healthy and happy society
          b) Then create a taxation (etc.) regime that will adequately pay for them

        2. Yes carrot and stick are required and need to be developed in harmony. Not much carrot in MetroVan as rapid transit is concerned and many regions are barely serviced by a wobbly slow bus let alone necessary rapid transit, like UBC and teh entire westrn half of Vancouver, west end, most of Richmond, most of Surrey and all of Delta, N-Van or W-Van. As long as those areas are poorly serviced by public transit or services that are very slow and infrequent car use will prevail.
          Tolls merely shift behavior at the margin, i.e. somewhat less folks at rush hour if priced high enough, or somewhat less folks overall that will now carpool, bike, walk, take the bus or move even.
          People woudl happily pay tolls if the traffic flow, as much as many prefer a private healthcare option if they do not have to wait and get superior service.
          Introducing a MetroVan road pricing scheme without any tax relief elsewhere and no real improvements, just a bus or seabus here and there, and zero concessions from the coddled public sector unions in terms of pay & benefits, will see massive resistance.
          Look no further than Toronto were the quite sensible right-of-centre mayor John Tory tried to get road tolls for the very congested highways leading into Toronto (specifically Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner “Express”way) , so that GTA could fund more subways and LRTs (also all congested) just to be overruled by the left-of-centre Liberal government. Not an easy topic to convince folks to buy into. First they wanted maybe a measly $2 https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2016/11/24/province-ok-with-road-tolls–if-city-council-approves.html .. Woohoo .. $2 wil change behavior ? I don’t think so.So even despite this tiny tiny change it was cancelled earlier this year https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspark/2017/01/26/kathleen-wynne-stopping-john-torys-plan-for-tolls-on-dvp-gardiner.html .. Why would MetroVan be any different ?

        3. Good points, Thomas Beyer. Barry, “We can’t have road pricing unless we eliminate some other tax.” does not equal “I don’t want to pay taxes”. That’s your own assessment, but it’s a big leap. People rightly have an issue with being taxed more without a purpose. If you say you will raise tax by 1% to fund healthcare, people might go for that. What people do not want is a tax grab dressed up as a green initiative and that’s fair. Road pricing has to be about resolving an issue and the public will be more on board if they do not see it as another tax hit. Introduce road pricing, but reduct gas tax so that our gas is similarly priced to Toronto and people will be happier. I don’t see what’s wrong with that.
          Who is it that is saying that fares should pay for transit? I’m not hearing that, so why are you making an issue of something which I believe no one else is? Of course transit has to be subsidized. Fares are only part of the revenue stream.
          Your theory about a taxation scheme to pay for everything we want is nice, but it’s a bit simplistic. One needs to balance tax regime with tax revenue. Increasing taxes doesn’t always result in increased revenue because the wrong kind of taxation can drive business away and result in lower revenue. Too low, you don’t collect enough tax. There is also the issue of things like revenue from oil sands and pipelines. In those cases, some people feel that the tax revenue from those businesses are essential to pay for good stuff we need, while others do not. If you don’t have that tax revenue, you have to get it somewhere else. People also sometimes feel that it’s not always about tax collected, but how efficiently it’s spent, which raises a whole ton of other issues. Does a city contract out it’s garbage collection to save money or does it employ it’s own staff at higher wages to do the same job? Does the public have a right to resist additional tax when they feel that the city is not spending their tax dollars as wisely as they could? So many issues.

  7. For the public to accept any new pricing concept there will have to be a clever or reasonable change in the policy that says; ‘driving is bad and so are cars and especially SUVs so we’re going to nail you drivers so we can have a transit system like those we see when we go to Europe’.
    As long as the idea is based on an ideology that calls for a Disneyesque Vancouver village with healthy cyclists and little trains and buses toodling around with happy hipsters crammed into 500 sq’ apartments and blocked bridges keeping the unwanted suburban ignoramuses out, the plans won’t succeed.

    1. I don’t think anyone is saying that driving is bad. The problem is that it is highly subsidized and alternatives are not sufficiently provided. That encourages more people to drive. To have decent mobility in the city, a way must be found to provide alternatives and reducing the huge subsidy on driving is one of those options. Some people say that the provision of separated bike lanes is a war on cars, but the city councillors are simply trying to provide good mobility options so that everyone can more around. Tbis is good for everyone, including those who must drive. I believe that the city is not providing people with good information on why their approach is good for everyone.

      1. Building freeways ? Look at the congestion. Hwy 1 widening needs to be accelerated to Abbotsford ASAP, especially with the misguided (vote buying) drop of the PM bridge toll. SFPR already congested due to too many trucks and commercial activity along Fraser on both sides. New bridges required are: Patullo, Massey, Lionsgate .. all congested. Missing is a Boundary Road southbound extension to connect to highways in Richmond, ideally as a highway with no lights.
        All tolled heavily of course to collect cash and keep it flowing. Plus more rapid transit, of course, not just a bus or seabus here or there.
        Essentially politics on both MetroVan and provincial levels have failed by allowing unmitigated construction of new dwellings with far too little infrastructure buildup, ie roads or public transit and no tolls for deacdes. But hey, let’s up immigration even more, by 50% from 300,000 to 450,000 a year so we can pretend there is good GDP growth in Canada as GDP per capita shrinks or is flat. This is good governance for Canadians ?
        ==> Essentially massive but foreseeable growing pains !!
        Did MetroVan folks actually vote for this ? Or were the consequences (of immigration and massive new construction of dwellings) merely not told, apparently unforeseeable or willfully ignored (i.e the can is kicked down the road frequently) ?