Thursday, July 07, 2011

Media Ignores Motor Vehicle Subsidies



One of the big news stories here in Vancouver this morning is the announcement of a funding proposal for the long delayed Evergreen line. Rather than focus on the benefits of expanding cleaner transportation options most of the media seems focused on the two cent gasoline tax increase that will be used to fund the project.  CBC radio is encouraging drivers to phone in and complain about the tax.

But there is no mention of the fact that driving is highly subsidized here in the Lower Mainland.  Reports by Metro Vancouver and the provincial Ministry of Transport estimate the subsidy to be as much as 6 billion dollars per year.  It is unlikely that this small tax increase will come close to covering that subsidy.

There is broad consensus that we need to make significant cuts to our greenhouse gas (ghg) emissions.  Both the provincial government and some municipalities have set targets of 80%.  With transportation being the largest source of ghg emissions in our region it is clear we have to give drivers incentives to change their behaviour as well as cleaner options.

Given this imperative the two cent tax increase seems far too low.

[illustration from Translink]

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