Opinion

Editorial — Port Mann Bridge tolls are discriminatory

The tolls on the new Port Mann Bridge have now risen to $3 for single-occupancy vehicles, and the move is discriminatory. It is little more than an advanced tax grab.

When the new bridge opened and tolls were first levied more than a year ago, South Fraser residents (who are the most frequent bridge users), were told they would initially be set at $1.50 because all the work on the bridge and the expanded Highway 1 was not complete. The work is still not complete, and won’t be for some time, but the higher tolls have kicked in.

The tolls are discriminatory because they are aimed primarily at those who have to use the bridge. Most of these people live in Langley, Abbotsford or Surrey, although  there are also some from the Tri-Cities area who use it regularly to get to work south of the Fraser.

Those who benefit from the new interchanges and widened highway west of the bridge pay nothing towards all the improvements they enjoy. The province has not looked into tolling drivers based on the distance they travel on the improved highway — something that is routinely done in many jurisdictions around the world.

While the toll can be justified because of the high cost of all the improvements — improvements which were decades overdue — it should apply to all who benefit from the new highway and bridge, not just the bridge users.

Langley residents at least have one option — they can  use the new 555 bus from the Carvolth exchange to quickly get to the Braid SkyTrain station. Residents from Surrey and Abbotsford have no such options available to them. There is no transit they can use to cross the bridge, even though that was a key promise when the bridge replacement project was announced nine years ago.

The provincial government must treat all regions fairly.

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