The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce claims light rail is a fine idea, but that a sales tax to fund its operations and maintenance (O&M) is unaffordable (Kelly Parker’s Sept. 23 letter, “Sales tax would be crippling to area.”) Since the Chamber supported last year’s sales tax increase (to fund C-Tran) that was twice as large as that for light rail O&M, their stated rationale for opposing this tax seems arbitrary and misleading.
While most sales tax hikes are worth opposing, this one for light rail O&M is especially bad because light rail provides little benefit, at an enormously high cost. The proposed downtown parking structures for accommodating the cars of light rail users “taken off the roads” have only 2,890 spaces — that’s less than 3 percent of the daily traffic on the current I-5 bridge. This newspaper reported in February that the Columbia River Crossing will request $1.2 billion in federal funding for light rail — that’s a bit more than a third of the CRC’s $3.5 billion estimated cost.
The real reason to oppose this light rail O&M sales tax hike is that light rail is a boondoggle. As such, it is unworthy of being funded in any way, or by any means.