In Vancouver we are on the verge of a transportation referendum to decide whether to add 0.5% to sales tax to fund transportation improvements in the Lower Mainland. Back in the early 2000's, not long out of university, I had the opportunity to work on the planned Edinburgh Congestion Charging Scheme. The scheme featured an inner and outer cordon and I worked to choose the cordon crossing points to eliminate the possibility of rat running around the entry points as well as working on the design of the crossings points to allow the video capture of licence plates. The scheme did not go ahead, on the 22 February 2005, voters overwhelmingly rejected the proposals. While a congestion charge would be more intrusive than a small increase in sales tax, no votes do happen and have consequences! Lets take a look at the two proposals...
In Edinburgh, drivers would face a £2 charge when they passed one of the cordon points during peak times, with the charge only being applied once per day (bear in mind the London congestion charge was introduced at £5 per day and is now£11.50 per day). Compare that with the Vancouver proposal and that 0.5% equates to very little, even if you were to spend $100 per day, and I certainly don't do that, you would pay just $0.50 extra per day.
The Edinburgh proposals would pay for the following improvements.
The question posed in Edinburgh was "The leaflet enclosed with this ballot paper gives information on the Council's transport proposals for Edinburgh. The Council's ‘preferred’ strategy includes congestion charging and increased transport investment funded by it. Do you support the Council's ‘preferred’ strategy?". The turnout was 61.7% and 74.4% voted against the scheme. Some of the proposed improvements are being or have been implemented but at a much slower pace than if the referendum had been successful.
What went wrong? This paper tries to determine what factors contributed to such a convincing no vote. Some include:
The Vancouver proposals will pay for the following improvements:
In Vancouver the question will be “Do you support a new 0.5% Metro Vancouver Congestion Improvement Tax, to be dedicated to the Mayors’ Transportation and Transit Plan?”. The referendum will take place via mail ballot from March 16 to May 29, 2015.
What do I think needs to happen?:
The bottom line for me, if you want to improve transportation you have to pay for it. Existing funding pays for existing service. If it is a no vote, what do we end up with? The same system we have today! But a million more people trying to use it!
Learn more here http://mayorscouncil.ca/referendum/