Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said road pricing - charging motorists to use roads outside their home cities - is a fair and equitable way to fund transit in Metro Vancouver.
Funds generated by the proposed road pricing would be used to provide TransLink with sustainable funding while spreading out the cost among all drivers.
"It's used for maintenance, operation, expansion that's required of the transportation system, all of those things," said Watts, who noted that there are about 21 different models of charging for road use.
One of those models includes charging residents by the kilometre when they drive out of their "home zone" and into a different city. For instance, a Surrey resident could drive within their city without fees, but would pay a few cents if they went into White Rock.
Another would be a rate when drivers cross city limits instead of charging them by the kilometre. The rate would differ from city to city.
"You can go into some zones and it may be 25 cents in one area or 50 cents in another area, but typically, it's all under a dollar," said Watts.
The mayor's comments come one week after she met with a group of international transportation experts to discuss the possibility of introducing road pricing to Metro Vancouver to pay for transit.
The panel included tolling and transportation authorities from Connecticut, Virginia and Washington State.
The forum suggested reducing fees from gas and property taxes and getting rid of the vehicle levy legislation in favour of road pricing. One expert noted that decreasing the gas tax, among other charges, would encourage driving in Metro Vancouver and prevent Canadians from filling up across the border.
Should road pricing be implemented, Watts said she would like to see changes to toll bridges like the new Port Mann, which have been criticized as unfair to drivers who have no choice but to drive over the bridge on their daily commutes.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said road pricing might be a fairer way to pay for transit needs than increasing property taxes, although it remains to be seen if there's an appetite for such a scheme.
"It has to be fair, that's what I'm striving for. It makes no sense to charge a senior citizen living in Tsawwassen a property tax rather than a road tax on those who are actually using it. However, this is only an idea and it's not been researched enough," Jackson said.
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