It's closer than you thinkCars are evil. I’m just going to put it out there. I’m also not an expert. The other day Translink, our autocratic and despotic transit overlord, announced that they will be looking to shore up their budget by taxing cars. They tried this once before and it failed miserably.

Why I think this is a good thing: Cars are evil. Is there an echo in here? They are. They are ruining the environment and the last time I checked, that’s where I live. Drivers do not nearly pay the full costs of their luxury. Roads, bridges, overpasses all cost money. The government pays for them (re: our tax dollars). Then there are the environmental damages: air pollution, scrap cars, rubber tires, chemicals, old batteries, etc. The government ends up payer to clean much of this up. People pay with their lives. They sit in hospitals suffering from lung cancer or other respiratory problems. Not to mention the people physically injured, maimed and killed by cars.

Don’t drivers already pay taxes and the gas tax? Yes, they do. But this amount is small and does not cover the cost of both infrastructure and public transit needed to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles each year (Surrey went from 186,539 registered vehicles in 1999 to 282,412 in 2009 – that’s a 51.40% increase over 10 years. Surrey’s population in the same time went from 349,184 people to 433,924, a 24.27% population increase in a 9 year period).

Drivers can argue that they don’t use transit so why should they pay for it? Because without transit, roads would be much more congested than they already are. They can argue that transit doesn’t serve their areas or accommodate their schedules. So? We are a society with an idea that convenience is a right. It isn’t. Move to an area with transit access. Denser neighbourhoods are better and more efficient neighbourhoods (‘better’ is a bit of a subjective term…see Jane Jacobs). The bus only comes 30min.? Wait. Plan ahead. Things need to change.

What if their car isn’t a luxury? Perhaps it is a more fuel efficient, compact or sub-compact car. Then they should be taxed or fined less. Those with enough money to afford an SUV luxury vehicle in the city can afford the extra money (I might be a socialist if you haven’t figured it out).

It’s time to make hard decisions. Recession or not. The Province of British Columbia (the Best Place on Earth?) is now paying billions for the Gateway project because they cannot find a private business partner. Tax payers are now on the hook for more roads which will ultimately lead, as research has proven, to more drivers. If you build it, they will come.

Why the tax is a bad thing: Translink should not have the authority to impose taxes. As much as I think they should, in its current state it is a body of un-elected “experts” who are not accountable to the general public. They are only accountable to those that placed them there (re: The BC Liberal Government).

Also, I think that taxing a source that you hope will disappear is wrong. For instance, they currently tax gasoline within MetroVancouver. When gas prices soared, people bought less, took transit more and tax money fell. Sure, it means more people are paying for transit but they’re still losing a source of revenue.

All in all, its time for the real costs to be paid and changes to be made.

This was also posted on my own blog @ http://brandonyan.blogspot.com/

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