PREMIER John Horgan announced on Friday that his government is eliminating tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges with effect from September 1.
“We’re taking immediate action to make life more affordable and get people moving by scrapping unfair tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges,” said Horgan. “This is just one of many steps we’ll be taking in the coming weeks and months to make life easier for families throughout British Columbia.”
The Province said that this announcement delivers on the premier’s commitment to put an end to the previous government’s bridge tolls. It will save families who regularly have to cross the Fraser River an average $1,500 a year. Commercial drivers averaging one crossing a day will save $4,500 a year or more.
Each day, approximately 121,000 vehicles cross the Port Mann Bridge, with another 40,000 vehicles taking the Golden Ears Bridge. In addition to the costs borne by commuters, the tolls increased congestion along other transportation corridors.
“Many people have been travelling out of their way to avoid tolls because they simply cannot afford them,” said Horgan. “Getting rid of tolls will shorten commute times and clear up other routes, so people can spend less time stuck in traffic and more time with their families.”
Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Claire Trevena said the government will continue to invest in the roads, bridges and other transportation projects British Columbians need to help people get around – without unfairly hitting some families and businesses with tolls.
“Unlike the previous government, we’re not going to pit one region of the province against the other,” said Trevena. “We’re going to deliver on the investments needed to serve families and grow our economy, across B.C. in a way that is fair for all families.”
“We have worked very closely with TransLink and the Mayors’ Council to deliver an agreement on Golden Ears that offers relief for families,” said Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Selina Robinson. “The toll removal on the Port Mann Bridge and the Golden Ears Bridge will make life more affordable for drivers who cross these bridges every day, and it will help improve traffic flow on other bridges.”
Currently, the toll to cross the Port Mann is $3.15 for cars, pickup trucks and SUVs, $6.30 for medium-sized vehicles, e.g., a car with a trailer or a motorhome, and $9.45 for commercial vehicles.
The toll to cross the Golden Ears is $3.20 to $4.45 for cars, pickup trucks and SUVs, $6.35 to $7.55 for medium-sized vehicles, and $9.45 to $10.70 for commercial vehicles.
Bills for tolls up to and including Thursday, August 31 will still need to be paid. The process for bill payment will remain in place during the transition. The tolling for both bridges will stop at midnight on August 31.
HOWEVER, B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver lashed out at the government, saying: “It’s unfortunate that the government has decided to proceed with this reckless policy.”
He added: “There is no question that the affordability crisis facing so many British Columbians is a significant concern. However, this policy is high cost and low impact. There are lots of good, high return-on-investments decisions that government can make, such as education, student housing and child care. It is disappointing that the first major measure that this government has taken to make life more affordable for British Columbians will add billions of dollars to taxpayer-supported debt. Moreover, making such a massive addition to our debt risks raising interest on all debt, which ultimately prevents government from being able to invest more in important social programs.
“Tolls are an excellent policy tool to manage transport demand. Transport demand management reduces pollution and emissions, alleviates congestion and helps pay for costly infrastructure. That’s why, at the negotiating table when preparing our Confidence and Supply Agreement, we ensured that a commitment was included to work with the Mayors’ Council consultation process to find a more fair and equitable way of funding transit for the long-term. We look forward to that commitment being met so that British Columbians can have an evidence-based, truly fair approach to this file.”