The B.C. Liberals, if elected, would cap bridge tolls at $500 a year, the party promised Sunday.
Later the same day, the NDP pledged to eliminate them.
Under the Liberals plan, drivers using the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges would pay no more than $500 a year, providing an annual savings of over $1,000 a year for commuters using them to travel back and forth to work.
The $500 toll cap would also apply to the replaced Pattullo Bridge and the George Massey Tunnel, once in operation.
“Our commitment to growing the economy and controlling spending means that we are able to make life more affordable for people using toll bridges in the Metro Vancouver area,” said Abbotsford West candidate Mike de Jong.
The Port Mann Bridge toll is currently $3.15 each way. Non-business drivers with a TReO decal who cross the bridge twice a day on weekdays spend approximately $1,600 per year.
The Liberals would work with the Transportation Investment Corporation, with government covering the bill for tolls in excess of that amount.
The toll cap would be applicable to personally registered vehicles that register their vehicles to get a free TReO decal.
Preliminary costing estimates anticipate an annual cost to government of $30 million for the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges, based on the number and frequency of commuters who cross them.
“The Port Mann Bridge saves commuters up to an hour per day on a round trip into Vancouver,” said de Jong. “In addition to saving precious time, daily commuters will save over $1,000 per year with our plan to put a $500 cap on bridge tolls.”
The cap would be introduced by January 1, 2018.
Speaking at the B.C. NDP’s campaign kickoff in Surrey, leader John Horgan pledged to eliminate tolls for the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.
“British Columbians are paying thousands more in taxes and fees under Christy Clark. Her choices have made life less affordable. My priority is to make life more affordable for families and relieve the day-to-day cost pressures people are facing,” said Horgan.
“Eliminating the tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears crossings is one way that we will put money back in commuters’ pockets and get people moving again.”
He added that Clark’s choice not to fund public transit is forcing more Lower Mainland commuters into cars, where they pay costly tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.
He said drivers trying to avoid the fees cause traffic gridlock on nearby routes.
“We’re going to give Lower Mainland commuters a break. We’ll eliminate tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges. And we’ll work with Metro Vancouver mayors and TransLink to make sure there is a fair deal for transportation in the region.”