TransLink’s Mayors’ Council provided its final approval to the Phase Two transit expansion plan in a meeting earlier today, and this included a 1.5 cent per litre hike in the regional fuel tax to support the construction and implementation costs.
When TransLink revealed its proposed revenue sources in the spring, the added fuel tax was not included as a new tax measure.
This was not the Mayors’ Council preferred option, given the soaring price of fuel in the region to the extent that Metro Vancouver’s prices recently broken a record in North America.
“This is a last-minute and noteworthy addition to the plan,” said Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, chair of the Mayors’ Council, during the meeting. “I know some will see this as a surprising or a big change, but we have been talking about this for a long time.”
With the hike, TransLink’s share of the taxation placed on regional fuel will rise from 17 cents per litre to 18 cents per litre. This will effectively fill TransLink’s $30 million annual shortfall over the duration of the 10-year, Phase Two plan.
It would come into effect in spring 2019.
“There is a time where you have to pay and the choices that you have to make are difficult… but the problem is by not choosing to move forward with the plan and the money that comes in, we’d be delaying all of these projects,” continued Corrigan, adding that the Mayors’ Council can use the next few months to come up with an alternative to the fuel tax hike.
“It is time to move this plan forward and it may not be perfect but let’s keep on working on ways to make it perfect.”
Phase Two will cost over $7.3 billion, and includes about $4.5 billion for the underground Millennium Line Broadway Extension and the Surrey Newton-Guildford LRT Line. Other investments that are a part of the plan include upgrades to the Expo and Millennium lines, new train cars, and improved bus service.
Currently, the total fuel tax in Metro Vancouver amounts to 49 cents per litre, with 17 cents from TransLink’s fuel tax, a 6.75 cent provincial motor fuel tax, 7.78 cent carbon tax, 10 cent federal excise tax, 5 cent GST, and a small amount from other taxes.
Last month, TransLink’s Mobility Pricing Independent Commission’s final report suggested eliminating the 17 cent TransLink fuel tax and replacing it with a mobility pricing option over the longer term.