Drivers in Metro Vancouver are facing higher fuel taxes next year in an effort to fund a $7.3-billion transit plan across the region.
Municipal Affairs Minister Selina Robinson says in a statement the province will bring in legislation that allows the regional transit authority to increase the motor fuel tax by up to 1.5 cents per litre next spring.
Metro Vancouver drivers currently pay 33.28 cents per litre for Translink, provincial and carbon taxes.
Robinson says increasing the levy isn’t anyone’s first choice and if mayors in the region can identify other sources of funding for the second phase of the 10-year transit plan, they may choose not to raise the tax.
It’s estimated that the increase would bring in about $30 million annually.
Phase two of the transit plan includes building the Broadway SkyTrain line in Vancouver, a light rail transit line in Surrey and expanding bus service throughout the region.
The province has already agreed to fund 40 per cent of the plan, while the federal government has committed money through the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.
Translink is increasing fares two per cent by 2020 to help cover the costs and the transit authority estimates increased ridership will bring in an additional $1.6 billion.
The region’s municipalities have also signed on to hikes in parking taxes, property taxes and development costs in order to fund the plan.
But a gap in funding remained, and Robinson said the province has been speaking with the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation since March about how to fill the shortfall.
“The mayors have said that the revenue is needed to support their 10-Year plan for expanded transportation and commuting options throughout Metro Vancouver,” she said.
The Mayors’ Council and Translink’s board of directors approved the project’s investment plan at a meeting Thursday.
Translink CEO Kevin Desmond said in a statement that they have already seen the benefits that come from adding service.
“You reduce crowding and make transit more convenient and enjoyable,” he said. “By making transit a better experience, ridership grows and the benefits continue to add up for everyone across the region.”