BC: Say No to the TransLink Gas Tax!
This morning, I spoke with Bill Good on CKNW radio about the latest round of TransLink gas and property tax hikes. It should come as no surprise that your Canadian Taxpayers Federation is dead set against this. Here are some numbers to keep in mind:
• This added gas tax means Lower Mainland drivers will pay 50 cents per litre in federal, provincial, regional, and TransLink gas tax.
• Lower Mainland drivers pay the highest gas taxes in BC, and BC drivers pay the highest in Canada. Not surprisingly, BC drivers pay the highest gas prices in Canada.
• Last year, TransLink raked in $719.4 million in taxes and tolls. Now they want more!
• TransLink has their hands in taxpayers’ pockets all over the place: they already get 15 cents per litre in gas tax ($323.2 million), they get property taxes ($271.8 million, and going up every year), they have a tax on your BC Hydro bill ($18.6 million), they tax parking ($58.4 million), they toll the Golden Ears Bridge ($29.6 million, and they get money from AirCare ($19.5 million).
• Fares generate $413 million a year.
• In 2000, TransLink’s total revenue was $525 million. That ballooned to $1.4 billion in 2010, up 161%. Ridership in that time has grown from 129 million to 211 million people, only a 64% increase.
• TransLink’s long term debt has ballooned from $599 million in 2000 to $2.2 billion in 2010.
• TransLink has the authority to bring in an “Area Benefitting Tax,” which would tax only property owners who directly benefit from transit improvements. Despite the user-pay philosophy of such a move, TransLink has refused to do so, meaning people with little or no transit service are forced to subsidize communities with two or three SkyTrain lines.
• SkyTrain technology is the most expensive rapid transit technology you can buy. This is a Cadillac when budget constraints should be demanding a sensible alternative.
The solution to this funding “crisis”? Become more efficient at TransLink, and ratchet down the technology choices from the Cadillac SkyTrain to more sensible at-grade light rail and rapid buses. Do more with less!