January 23, 2018

Are We Headed For A Transit Tax?

Translink hasn’t exactly had a great run, it has to be said, and in recent weeks the public flogging has only intensified.

Results from the hotly debated transit referendum are expected in mere days, and never have so many people in Vancouver been so vocal and polarised about a topic. Well, not since the Olympics, anyway. Vancouver is already one of the most expensive places on earth to live, with the second highest property prices.

There have long been two thorns in the sides of Vancouvians: We are overtaxed and Translink hates us. Now, the two are not bedfellows and one has little to do with the other but it is easy to see why people say we are over taxed. Every year, the taxes go up:

  • Carbon tax
  • Hydro rates
  • Ferry fares
  • Property taxes

Taxes in one of the most expensive places to live in the world can feel brutal, and sometimes a tax loan does make a certain amount of sense. However, when it comes to finding additional funding for transportation how welcome is another tax going to be?

We aren’t as over taxed as all that

In the whole of British Columbia, Vancouver tax rates are the only ones that have reduced and not increased. In fact, tax rates have not been this low since the 1980s. Does this make an extra tax OK then? Well, that’s the point of the referendum: you get to decide whether or not it is acceptable – these things are rare, if not unheard of.

Does Translink need or deserve extra funding this way?

Extra funding to improve existing services, or even work on new projects is usually a welcome idea so why this furore? Mostly it’s simply down to the idea of yet another tax to pay, but there is also the element of Translink just not being very good at their jobs.

Ask most people in North America if they mind paying extra taxes to improve services, and most will reply in the negative. But, this is assuming that the money is managed responsibly and the authority doesn’t have a history of wasting the money that it is entrusted with.

Ford_E-Series_TransLink_CutawayImage sourced from: Wikimedia

Translink is one of the world’s leading transit authorities, but they are not without the occasional hiccup. Does this mean that they are wasteful, incompetent or mismanaged? Of course not, it simply means that the authority is run by humans that are prone to making mistakes. Just like everyone else.

The simple fact of the matter, is that Translink is one of the most efficient transit companies when compared with its peers in the rest of Canada and the United States.

Ultimately, the decision is yours Vancouver. Before you cast your vote, if you haven’t already, consider the facts of the matter: You are not over taxed and Translink is not the monster some quarters would like us to believe. Use your vote, and use it while in possession of the facts.

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