Opinion

UNCOMMON SENSE: Toll the roads, not just bridges

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The announcement of the replacement of the Massey Tunnel should have been met with joyful jubilation and the clinking of glass. If and when the explosives are rigged to take that thing down I want to be there personally to witness its sudden demise.

Every second I have wasted idling in my car waiting to queue to get to the other side will be remembered in a rush of gleeful revenge.

But while it should have been happiness and hearty handshakes, instead we heard the familiar whines of the cynical Lower Mainland commuter.

Oh, it’ll just be another toll bridge, they said. Just another money grab from the government. I’ll have to take the Alex Fraser bridge now.

Yeah. So what?

I’m not sure why Canadians are so toll-averse here when it’s perfectly normal in the United States to have a pay-per-use system for road infrastructure. After all, why the heck should somebody living and taking transit in downtown New York City pay the same amount of money as the guy driving the I-95 from Jersey?

More importantly, why are only bridges tolled in the Lower Mainland? Isn’t it about time we implemented a pay-per-use highway system here, particularly to alleviate the paralyzing gridlock caused by drivers living too far from where they work?

There are South Surrey residents working in Vancouver who cross Delta daily, using the Alex Fraser and Massey Tunnel, as well as the Knight Street or Oak Street bridges, and they pay no extra cost for their travel. But if a Ladner resident needs to go from one side of the river to the other–about 200 metres–God help him or her if it’s after four o’clock.

A toll highway with transponders would accurately measure zones, marking where a driver gets on and when he gets off. That way, the farmer who drives from Ladner to Richmond doesn’t get the same bill as the Yaletown office worker who drives from his Cloverdale ranch.

And doesn’t it make more sense that way? I mean, TransLink has zones so that the farther you travel, or the more use you get from the system, the more you pay.

Why wouldn’t roads get the same treatment? The people who are putting the most mileage on the roads, the ones causing the most traffic, the cars creating the most wear and tear each day should foot the lion’s share of the bill.

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