The Mobility Pricing Independent Commission recently published its initial report exploring decongestion charging as part of a 10-year plan for transportation development in the Metro Vancouver region. They have proposed two main policy approaches for consideration: tolling congestion points and charging drivers for each kilometre they drive.
Congestion point pricing charges drivers when they pass certain points or locations, such as a bridge, tunnel or high-traffic area. Distance-based charging means drivers would be charged for each kilometre they drive, and the amount would depend on where they go and at what time.
The BC Government & Service Employees' Union (BCGEU) welcomes efforts to address the effects of traffic congestion as well as the development of improved infrastructure. However, this should not be done at the expense of working people in the Caring Professionals sector whose incomes and services rely on free access to our roads.
Thousands of BCGEU members, particularly those working in community health or community social services, must have a car to perform their jobs and many drive 50+ kilometres a day on busy corridors to visit their clients. Some members are required to transport clients as part of community inclusion work, or to attend doctor's appointments. Imposing a tax on their mobility would not only create individual financial burden but could also negatively impact service delivery at agencies that aren't funded to pay the costs.
In addition, many of these workers are already facing significant issues when it comes to affordability in the region, including precarious working conditions, lower wages, low mileage rates for the use of their vehicles, and long commutes due to the housing crisis.
The BCGEU urges the Commission to propose a mobility pricing exemption for those in community health and community social services, as well as all workers who spend much of their workday on the roads, including delivery drivers and cab drivers.
In the coming weeks, the Commission will be conducting public consultations ahead of their final report due out in April. The union will encourage its members to visit www.itstimemv.ca between February 22 and March 17 to provide comment on this important issue.