Contrary to what Minister of Transportation Blair Lekstrom would have you believe, now is the prime time to talk about fair tolls for Vancouver. The current haphazard policy that only allows for tolls on new infrastructure has placed an inequitable and expensive burden on commuters in one area of the region.
With tolls upwards of $3 one way, commuters have already given the Golden Ears Bridge their thumbs down – all evidence suggests they will do the same to the new Port Mann in December. Thousands of drivers will move west to the deadly Pattullo in an attempt to save $1500 a year on tolls, funnelling even more congestion through the streets of New Westminster. Meanwhile, commuters in Vancouver, most of whom have reasonable alternatives to driving, will face no such dilemma.
The current policy must be changed. We need fair tolls across Metro Vancouver. Fair means tolls that are equally applied across all areas of the region. Fair means tolls that are affordable to the average family. Fair means tolls that can help fund rapid transit for areas that lack alternatives.
A fair tolling policy would place $1 tolls on all major bridges. A dollar per crossing is a reasonable and affordable price, one that is not a heavy burden on family budgets. By applying them on all bridges, there will be no incentive to opt for one bridge over another, ensuring traffic flows remain constant. With fair tolls, the revenues collected would not only pay for the new Port Mann and a Pattullo replacement, but would also contribute significantly to building new rapid transit lines and would help maintain a high quality highway system.
For decades, our congested transport network has been holding back Vancouver’s economic potential and degrading our quality of life. Now is the time to solve that outstanding issue by introducing a fair tolling policy that will keep our region strong, united, and moving.
– post by Paul Hillsdon