Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Evidence based policy making

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There was a flurry of commentary yesterday in the wake of the budget. General approval of the huge expansion of funding for more transit services, but griping at the removal of the tax concession to transit passes.

Now we could get into a debate about how the BC Liberals seem prepared to go into the election denying that they have an obligation to match the federal funding that would see the Broadway subway and Surrey LRT built. I would provide a link to Frances Bula’s piece in the Globe and Mail but that site is, of course, paywalled. But post writing the first bit of this I found that Metro has good coverage.

Instead I have decided to post something I picked up yesterday from a tweet. It turns out that there has been research into the impact of the tax treatment of commuter transit passes – and it found that there was no discernible impact on ridership. It was supposed to encourage people to ride transit instead of driving, but didn’t. Public Transit Tax Credit is  a pdf file that carries the title “The Effectiveness and Distributional Effects of the Tax Credit for Public Transit” by Vincent Chandler. Now, I do not know if this research was actually consulted by the government, but I do think that they are right in their conclusion that investment in more and better transit is a better way to spend tax dollars than subsidizing people who are using transit already. It certainly is much more likely to change behaviour in terms of mode choice.

Building a great big bridge over the Fraser is not going to cure traffic congestion. Putting in an extra tube that carries railway trains will. But the BC Liberals think that they will get re-elected if they get the bridge to the point of no return before the election, and refuse to budge from their current position on transit expansion. The contribution from provincial funds is set at one third and that will not be changed no matter what the feds promise. Of course, they do not do very well in polling in places where transit expansion is critical – Vancouver and Victoria. So perhaps this is just the usual appeal to their supporters in the rest of BC.

And now, thanks to Les Lyne of the Courier, I know that the Liberals really are interested in collecting more data to improve decision making. Thanks to facebook I have also come across another blogger with his perceptive take on the Conservatives “boutique tax cuts”.

Written by Stephen Rees

March 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

Posted in Transportation

One Response

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  1. re “the BC Liberals think that they will get re-elected if they get the bridge to the point of no return before the election” The Massey Bridge boondoggle cannot get anywhere near “the point of no return before the election.”

    The construction contracts will not be signed until well after the election. The Libs can pile up some sand, and move dirt around, and put up signs. But nothing of significance will be built before the election. It is vitally important that this point be repeated at least 1000 times before the election!

    Now get out there and make sure you repeat this info at least 50 times before the next election. You will know you are doing well when your friends and family start saying ‘yeah yeah, we know. you don’t have to keep repeating’

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