Keith Baldry has an interesting article in Coquitlam Now. He argues that Translink should move towards more of a “user pay” philosophy to generate revenue for Translink’s massive projects like replacing the Pattullo Bridge and building more Skytrains.  He’s getting at something that’s really, really right.  There’s a disconnect between transportation users and the costs they incur.  I’d argue this is especially true for drivers.

But whether Translink should shift to more of a “user pay” system for generating revenue depends on how you define “user pay.”  The user pays for what exactly?  Baldry’s only thinking of the costs of building new transportation infrastructure.  But that’s not everything users should pay for.  They should also have to pay for the public space they take up on the road, and the congestion they contribute to.  If you want your car to take up space in congested public areas when it’s parked, you have to feed the meter.  Why should taking up public space be free just because your car is moving?  And given that we think carbon emissions are really bad, people should have to pay a lot for the carbon they burn.  We don’t think big corporations should be able to pollute for free.  Why think that about drivers?

Of course, if you set up a “user pay” system that included all this stuff, I’m guessing you’d make driving expensive enough that people would start doing it a lot less.  Which, of course, is the point.

(Thanks for Ian MacLeod for sending Baldry’s piece my way.)

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