VANCOUVER — B.C.’s transport regulator has acknowledged provincial truckers’ concerns with its much-hyped 2010 10-Year Transportation Plan. It just doesn’t look like it wants to do anything about it.
So says the B.C. Trucking Association, which recommended a host of changes to TransLink’s 10-Year Transportation Plan. But the agency failed to specifically address any of them, says BCTA.
Its main complaint is that any supposed benefits of the plan will not be enough "to justify the additional financial burden caused by proposed new and increased taxes and levies forced upon road users and property owners."
This includes, reportedly, a 3-cent fuel tax increase and new shipping container charges, an annual vehicle levy and property transfer taxes — all on top of the province’s unpopular carbon tax, which just went up another 1.35 cents on diesel fuel this month. (Metro Vancouver fuel buyers now pay the highest fuel tax rates in North America).
"Any TransLink fuel tax increases in combination with other taxes and fees will excessively compound this burden and potentially harm Lower Mainland and BC competitiveness," says the trucking group.
"The draft 10-Year Plan pays lip service to facilitating goods movement but makes no specific proposals for relieving the congestion that impedes it,"
Among other recommendations, BCTA urged TransLink to return responsibility for managing the Major Road Network in the Lower Mainland to the provincial government.
If not, then BCTA is asking for at least the establishment of a “roads and bridges secretariat,” with an industry advisory group made up of commercial freight users.
The organization would help identify necessary infrastructure investments, develop a Freight Transportation Strategic Plan as well as a framework for a "fair and streamlined tax structure to support these investments" and create a Transportation Demand Management strategy to complement the tax structure that distinguishes between discretionary (for example, alternate and reasonable transportation options exist) and non-discretionary road use.
Also, BCTA suggests examining ways to reduce costs through, among other things, outsourcing transportation and support services to the private sector.
"Implementation of these strategies would not only help to address congestion from the transportation industry’s point of view, it would also establish a transparent and fair system of taxation," says BCTA.
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