The BC government will eliminate tolls of two Lower Mainland bridges as of Sept. 1.
Premier John Horgan says the fees for using the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges are unfair to commuters.
“If you live in Kelowna, you don’t pay tolls to cross the bridge. If you live on Vancouver Island, you don’t pay tolls to use the highway. You shouldn’t have to pay tolls because of where you live in Maple Ridge, in Surrey, or other points south of the Fraser River,” Horgan told a news conference.
Horgan says it will save families who regularly use the bridges about $1,500 a year, and will cost the government 132 million dollars this year.
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is slamming the change, calling it “reckless policy” that will add billions of dollars to taxpayer supported debt.
“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. ”
The province says about 121,000 vehicles cross the Port Mann Bridge each day, with another 40,000 vehicles taking the Golden Ears Bridge.
The tolls range from $3.15 to $10.70 depending on the type of vehicle.
Transportation Minister Claire Travena says while the move will help drivers, it will impact an undetermined number of people who work in tolling.
“So we are very concerned that there will be people who’s lives will change with this. We are working with those people on transition, whether it’s in the TI Corp or jobs within the ministry,” says Travena.
Travena says 90 people work in the tolling for the Port Mann Bridge.
Getting rid of the tolls was a key part of the NDP’s election platform.