Frank Bucholtz, writing in the Peace Arch News, says that Translink’s done an “amazing” job over the past while, but is doomed anyway.  What? Why?  The problem is Translink’s proposed vehicle levy, which would cost an average of $122 a year.  Bucholtz, echoing Surrey mayor Dianne Watts, argues that it would be unfair for people living south of the river to pay the same vehicle levy as people in the city.  After all, the Watts/Bucholtz line goes, transit’s so much crappier south of the Fraser that people have to keep their cars.  Bucholtz’s suggestion is that people south of the river face a cheaper levy than people in the city.

I find the sense of unfairness motivating that argument a little rich.  Look at it from the point of view of people living in Vancouver, New West, and Burnaby.  They chose to pay higher rent and real estate prices, in order to live in dense communities with lots of transit-oriented development.  They did that, in part, so they could be one-car families, or so they could choose to leave the car at home a lot.  Why should they get hit with the heavy vehicle levy when other people chose to live in bigger houses with crappy bus service?

But ultimately, thinkng about the vehicle levy in terms of fairness is probably wrong-headed.  It’s not a punishment.  It’s meant to raise money and move people out of their cars.  Granted, we don’t want to strand anyone in south Delta by making their cars unaffordable.  But that’s an easy problem to solve.  Tilt the levy harder towards luxury cars.  Then we know the people with those cars can afford them, and we know that people who could only afford smaller, cheaper cars will be paying a good chunk less than $122 a year.  That should work, shouldn’t it?

And, uh, isn’t that roughly what Translink’s already proposing?

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