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Toll changes eyed for trucks on Port Mann Bridge

The province is thinking of tinkering with trucking tolls on the Port Mann Bridge – so why not the Golden Ears Bridge, as well?

Pitt Meadows Mayor Deb Walters likes the idea, providing fare changes are part of a coordinated effort for all of Metro Vancouver.

“I don’t have a problem with them lowering tolls, but I think it has to be on all bridges,” Walters said Wednesday.

Changing the rates on one bridge will push traffic somewhere else.

“Let’s look at the entire region, look at fair tolling and make it fair for all bridges and all truck drivers.”

The Ministry of Transportation said last week it’s considering lowering truck tolls to encourage truckers to use the new Port Mann and take pressure off the aging Pattulo Bridge.

One tactic could be a monthly pass for truckers, giving them unlimited use of the bridge, for the price of 50 regular trips. Another option is to reduce tolls during late evenings or early mornings, or change vehicle classifications.

Large trucks using the Port Mann Bridge now pay $9 for each crossing. The toll for large trucks on the Golden Ears Bridge is $8.95.

New Westminster councillors have called for lower Port Mann tolls for trucks for the same reason.

Walters said bridge and road tolls are a frustrating topic for Metro Vancouver mayors.

“It’s just an ongoing discussion that we have. You just can’t go and do these things without looking at the entire structure.”

Adjusting Golden Ears tolls is worth looking at, but Maple Ridge Mayor Ernie Daykin pointed out that TransLink has already tried that in a pilot program.

“There wasn’t a lot of uptake on the Golden Ears … I’m not sure why.”

Daykin, though, reiterated, if the bridge was 70 or 80 per cent of capacity shortly after opening, “it was probably under-built.”

And moderate bridge tolls should be considered for the entire region, he added.

But in return for region-wide bridge tolls, taxpayers should also get a reduced TransLink property tax or reduced gasoline taxes.

Max Logan, director of the province’s Transportation Investment Corp. that oversees the Port Mann, says truck traffic has jumped 25 per cent in its first year of operation.

Golden Ears Bridge numbers continue to lag behind expectations.

Average daily crossings in 2012 for the Golden Ears Bridge were 29,500, below original projections from a decade ago of 33,000 to 61,000.

– with files from Black Press

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