Ride-matching behemoth Uber is being held up as one example of dynamic new services that Metro Vancouver mayors have ignored in their push for a sales tax hike to expand public transit.

The road to subsidies

If they truly want small government and low taxes, they would be shouting the virtues of walking and biking from the hilltops.

I write in response to reporter Jeff Nagel’s story on the Fraser Institute’s critique of  the mayors for failing to consider emerging transportation technologies in their transit expansion plan (“Transport ‘revolution’ could make transit obsolete: Think tank,” March 31).

In it, report author Kenneth Green argues dynamic, personalized transport may meet many goals of transit expansion supporters but with less cost and less public subsidy.

It’s unfortunate an institute that holds itself out as a leader for free market thought in Canada makes such a basic error in neglecting the massive baked-in road subsidy.

If Green truly wants a less-subsidized transportation system, then I would expect him to speak out against big government road building and in favour of privately owned and operated streets.

There is no way a private operator would rent 1,000 square feet (space required for vehicle and high-speed stopping distance, not including freeway medians, clear zones, etc.) for the price of $0/hour, as municipal governments are asked to do today.

If we took the same return on investment calculations that are common on the side of the curb where we live or work, and applied them to the side of the curb where we run vehicles, we would quickly realize how badly we are being ripped off and how much of a sweetheart deal we give to operators of private vehicles. Owning 1,000 square feet on one side of the curb would earn you thousands of dollars per month in many parts of our region.

As collective owners of the space on the other side of the curb, why do we accept a rate of $0 (for moving vehicles) or almost zero (for stationary parked vehicles)?

I can understand our region is known as the “left coast” and perhaps a large population of socialists and communists support this arrangement.  But why does the Fraser Institute support it?

Whether they understand it or not, Green and the Fraser Institute are not really advocating for less public subsidy in transportation, they are advocating for more.

If they truly want small government and low taxes, they would be shouting the virtues of walking and biking from the hilltops.


Stuart Smith


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