During a joint meeting between the Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council and TransLink on May 24, Surrey’s Mayor Linda Hepner called the commission’s report “marvellous.” Marvellous? The concept is machiavellian, argues the Now-Leader’s Tom Zytaruk. (Now-Leader file photo)

Column

ZYTARUK: Road pricing is reprehensible

Fairness? Hah! It represents an attack on the working poor and all lower-income drivers

So let it be written…

Let’s call “Mobility Road Pricing” by its proper name — Roads for the Rich.

You have likely heard about this heinous scheme to charge drivers up to $8 per day. That’s what, $2,920 per annum, if you drive every day of the year, for the privilege of motoring along already existing roads that were built with your precious tax contributions.

You see, we have a traffic congestion problem in this region, and some people clearly figure the fix is to put a financial squeeze on lower-income drivers to get them off the roads so the wheel-heeled among us — those who’d just as soon toss $8 out into the street as keep it in their pocket — can enjoy clear sailing.

The Metro Vancouver Mayors’ Council set up this thing called the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission, whose 378-page report into this abomination of a concept indicates that charging drivers up to $8 dollars a day could reduce congestion by 20-25 per cent and net up to $1.5 billion each year, with the dubious caveat that “revenue should not be the prime aim of mobility pricing.”


Check out this bit of Orwellian doublespeak, contained in the report: “It is easy to characterize a decongestion charge as a ‘money grab’ or ‘just another tax.’ The paradox is that the less you charge, the more it would be just that. The charge needs to be set at a level sufficient to unlock the considerable benefits of reduced congestion and more efficient mobility.”

(That’s five fingers not four, right Winston?)

The real aim, I suggest, is to make it financially prohibitive, if not impossible, for low-income people to be able to afford to drive and therefore get them off the roads and out of the way. We’re already paying crazy money for gas at the pumps, which has many Surrey residents now thinking twice before pulling out of their driveway.

The commission’s report says the aim is to promote “fairness.” Whose fairness? Certainly not the low-income single mom driving her kids to school, the working poor, the college student, the cash-strapped senior who needs to drive to the pharmacy…anyone living on that precarious financial edge.

READ ALSO: Drivers could pay $8 per day to help cut gridlock under new plan

READ ALSO: High gas prices prompt most British Columbians to drive less: poll

During a joint meeting between the mayor’s council and TransLink on May 24, Surrey’s Mayor Linda Hepner called the commission’s report “marvellous.”

Marvellous? The concept is machiavellian. Then again, I’m among the unwashed masses not pulling in a healthy six-figure salary as does our mayor, with her $15,795 yearly car allowance. What do I know about the real world?

What’s marvellous for some people is injurious for others. Remember Aircare, that other punitive, happily abandoned attack on regular people who find it difficult to make ends meet? The working poor, the low-income earner. Back in the day, I personally lost two vehicles to that cynical cash grab — a ‘77 Nova and an ‘89 Escort.

Public Transit will not be an option for many people who will still need to drive to work, or need their vehicle to do their job, regardless if road pricing comes to be or not.

It’s an election year, folks. Find out where your candidates stand on mobility road pricing, and if they’re for it, let them know you are not for them. And when they join the unemployment line, perhaps they will finally appreciate the malevolent effects initiatives like road pricing have on the lives of everyday people who don’t occupy ivory towers.

So let it be done.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Just Posted

Two 23-year-old men die in separate Surrey motorcycle crashes in three days

One man died Thursday night after his motorcycle crashed on Highway 10, and another man died following a Tuesday crash

Take-home naloxone may be replacing 911 calls in Fraser Health area

Naloxone kits handed out up 29% over 2017, ambulance calls and emergency visits down 22-24%, deaths hold steady

334 brush and grass fires in Surrey since May 1

Surrey Fire Service says so far this month, there’s been at least 60

Renegades ‘02 undefeated through two days at softball nationals

White Rock ‘04 and ‘05 squads also at Canadian championships in Montreal

White Rock firefighters aid wildfire effort

Seaside department has sent three firefighters and one apparatus so far, with more set to deploy

Happy birthday Boler: An anniversary gathering of the cutest campers in Winnipeg

Hundreds of the unique trailers in Winnipeg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manitoba invention

Tim Hortons says its China expansion will include menu with congee, matcha

Coffee chain plans to open 1,500 stores in Asia over the next decade

How to help B.C. wildfire victims

Donations being taken by many organizations, BC Hydro waiving bills

5 to start your day

Mt. Hicks fire near Agassiz 15% contained, man dead in Surrey motorcycle incident and more

Whole city of Kimberley on an evacuation alert due to wildfires

Residents woke up Friday morning being told to get ready to leave any moment

Feds to allow charities to engage in political, but not partisan, activity

The plan is to allow charities to pursue political activities

Trump suggests Canada has been sidelined from latest NAFTA negotiations

Canadian officials have insisted they’re unfazed by being left out of the discussions

B.C. judge who cried during a victim statement to rule on recusing herself

The judge will decide if she’ll disqualify herself from sentencing a man for sexual assault

Photographer files complaint with police after alleged assault on the job

Toronto photographer says he was attacked while covering a protest

Most Read