"It's time" in Vancouver – Is equity the key to resolving the paradox of mobility pricing?

Presented by Dr Abraham Leung, Griffith University, Australia.

Pricing has long been a challenge for transport policy and planning. Incomplete or inefficient pricing mechanisms cause a wide range of suboptimal outcomes, e.g. congestion, pollution and unfunded infrastructure liabilities - aka road socialism. A fiscal paradox underlies the challenges to introduce more effective pricing of car use, which may help fund public and active transport. Increased fuel efficiency and the rise of alternative fuel (electricity/hydrogen) would further reduce fuel tax income. Attempts to introduce new fiscal instruments on mobility has been defeated multiple times in Vancouver - a vehicle levy in 2001 and a referendum for a transit surtax in 2015. In spite of the defeats, a renewed effort has just begun. The Independent Mobility Pricing Commission has been established in 2017 to investigate new mobility pricing schemes (such as distance-based vehicle charges and road pricing), with a publicity campaign – It’s Time (https://www.itstimemv.ca/).

These initiatives offer unique opportunities to study the efforts to reprice urban mobility in a car-dominant urban region. This presentation provides the initial analysis of Vancouver’s latest attempt, with insights into the social and political barriers to acceptance of such schemes.

About Dr Abraham Leung

Dr Abraham Leung is a postdoctoral research fellow in Griffith University's Cities Research Institute. His research focuses mainly on urban socio-spatial equity problems, with specific interests in public transport infrastructure value capture, mobility pricing, and fuel (oil) price vulnerability. As a key member of his university’s transport research team, he also provides research-based advice to industry partners under the Transport Academic Partnership (TAP) agreement with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. He has recently won a Simon Fraser University/Griffith University Collaborative Travel Grant to research mobility pricing policy in Vancouver.

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