Lessons from the experience of the Independent Mobility Pricing Commission

Pricing has long been a challenge for transport policy as incomplete or inefficient mechanisms cause a wide range of suboptimal outcomes, e.g. congestion, pollution and unfunded infrastructure liabilities. A fiscal paradox underlies this recurrent reluctance to break away from road socialism and introduce more effective pricing of mobility. People are reluctant to pay more directly for existing mobility options, such as roads, until alternative mobilities, such as transit and complete walkable communities are in place to offer an alternative to the auto.  But the cost of maintaining existing transport infrastructure leaves little or no fiscal room to develop such alternative mobilities.

Following defeat at the polls of a sales surtax to fund transportation alternatives to the single occupant vehicle in 2015, the Mayor’s Council of Vancouver’s regional mobility provider, TransLink, established an Independent Mobility Pricing Commission to investigate new mobility pricing schemes and recommend policy options.  Mobility pricing refers to the range of fees and charges for all modes of transport (e.g.: road tolls, vehicle-related taxes, public transport fares, fuel taxes, etc.). As the Commission has discovered, knowledge about the possible equity impacts of various pricing schemes is in high demand and short supply. In this seminar we examine the Commission’s research and public consultation process to assess the progress and pitfalls of advancing a workable mobility pricing scheme for Metro Vancouver.


Anthony Perl is Professor of Urban Studies and Political Science at Simon FraserUniversity in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. His research crosses disciplinary and national boundaries to explore policy decisions made about transportation, cities and the environment. Perl has advised governments in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, and the UnitedStates on transportation and environmental research and policy development. He is currently a member of the Vancouver CityPlanning Commission.


Building 80, Level 2, Room 1


20 July 2018