Vehicle levy could raise $72 million, carbon tax increase as much as $77 million, according to one analysis

If Metro drivers paid a 4.5 cents a litre carbon tax increase to Translink — about the increase they swallowed this week from soaring oil prices — Translink would have another $77 million for transit investments, according to Surrey public policy analyst Paul Hillsdon. (Check out his electic and informative blog here.)

Just as North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton began organizing regional consultations on Translink funding late last month,  Hillsdon sent Metro mayors his revenue estimates for three alternative funding sources: the carbon tax, a vehicle levy and more comprehensive bridge tolls.

Walton is seeking input from mayors and councillors as he heads into new talks with Victoria to find a long-term solution to Translink’s funding shortfalls.

Many mayors, including Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson, have expressed the hope that the scheduled 2012 carbon tax increase of 6.67 cents could go to Translink for new rapid transit, bus and road investments.

A coalition of Vancouver businesses is proposing a vehicle levy. Hillsdon estimates that a registration fee, rejected in 2001, would raise $72 million if it was set at $50 a car.

But the real cash cow in Hillsdon’s analysis is bridge tolls. Even at a modest level of $1 a trip, tolls on all the major bridges in the region would rake in $197 million.

Each of the alternatives has strengths and weaknesses — and that’s before anyone considers the political aspects. Expect to hear a great deal more about transit funding as Walton’s work picks up speed.