The City of Vancouver is taking a further step towards charging motorists for driving in the downtown area.
The city has launched a call for tenders to conduct a feasibility study on a “road user charge” in the city center.
The charges would be based on a variety of factors including type of vehicle, time of day and traffic jams.
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This follows a 2018 report by the region-focused Independent Commission on Mobility Pricing, which concluded that charging road tolls would be the most effective tool to reduce regional congestion, and that a “Downtown cordon” would be an effective part of such a program.
That same report determined that road pricing could generate up to $ 25 million per year to fund transit improvements.
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“What we want to be able to do in this phase is really do this forecast. We need to better understand the traffic and all mobility trends in a post-COVID recovery over the next five years, ”said Dale Bracewell, director of transportation planning in Vancouver.
The city said the initiative was a first step towards a regional road pricing system, and that the focus on the city center made sense given that it is home to the central business district and is a destination for the tourism and sporting events.
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“This scale and geography is actually very comparable to Stockholm, London and Singapore,” Bracewell said, referring to other cities that have implemented downtown tolls.
The proposal was not well received by some downtown businesses and business groups.
“It’s just going to push traffic out of downtown and force businesses out of downtown,” said Sunan Spriggs, owner of CityLux Boutique in downtown Vancouver.
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It would be fairer to charge people based on how much they drive, rather than where they drive, she said.
“If it’s really about reducing the carbon footprint, then we need to look at who’s really contributing. “
Greater Vancouver Board of Trade CEO Bridgitte Anderson has raised similar concerns, particularly amid the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
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“The office occupancy rate in the city center is around 10-30%, which includes many small and medium-sized businesses that have been devastated by the impact and are trying to open now,” he said. she declared.
“They should focus on economic recovery and rebuilding the downtown core and not spending resources figuring out how to keep people out.”
No bidder has yet been selected to conduct the feasibility study, and if road pricing is approved, it could be implemented no earlier than 2026.
The city of Vancouver has set a goal of reducing carbon pollution by 50% and ensuring that two-thirds of all trips in the city are made on foot, by bike or by public transit. by 2030.
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