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Richmond Review · Page 31

Friday, September 14, 2012

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Half-price Port Mann Bridge tolls unveiled Unlimited monthly pass, other incentives also offered by Jeff Nagel

they get the full time $1 at first instead of $1.50 and have the opsavings.” Drivers who register tion of a $50 monthly get a free windshield pass. decal that acts as a tranDrivers who don’t regsponder that’s detected ister before March will by the electronic tolling pay the full tolls ($3 for standard vehicles), system. Provincial officials say which are set to kick in registered accounts for all users in December set up for automatic of 2013. monthly payment mean Unregistered drivers less money will be spent who don’t pre-pay or mailing out invoices to pay within seven days of non-registered users crossing will be invoiced who are detected by and charged a $2.30 prolicence plate cameras. cessing fee, which will be The cameras aren’t com- waived for the first three pletely accurate either, months. so some revenue is lost The electronic tolling that way. Transportation Investment Corp. CEO Mike Proudfoot said the aim is get 80 per cent of bridge users registered, instead of the industry standard of about 60 per cent, and the extra efficiency would cover the cost of the reduced first-year rates. Another reason for the break is construction on parts of the Highway 1 corridor will also continue next year, as will work on the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR). The northeast section of the SFPR in Surrey will open by December, carrying motorists who don’t want to pay tolls on the Port Mann Bridge to the free Pattullo Bridge. Construction on the rest of the perimeter road will continue until late 2013, when it will also open up a free alternate route to the Alex Fraser Bridge and Massey Tunnel. Heavy trucks won’t •get earrings any introductory on the previously • earrings •break bracelets announced $9 tolls for bracelets •the rings Port Mann, • but they will pay half price if • rings • gold charms they cross at night between 9 •p.m. dental and 5gold a.m. • gold charms cars gold •ordental • Lighter broken trucks chains pulling trailers will pay • broken chains •$4.50 goldinnuggets the introductoperiod, instead of $6,nuggets •rysterling silver• gold and they’ll be offered a •monthly sterling silver •$225 sterling flatware unlimited • sterling flatware •pass. coins Motorcyclists will pay

system is to operate seamlessly with the one on TransLink’s Golden Ears Bridge, and the two bridges will move to a common payment system early next year. The province says the new bridge will chop commute times in half and save commuters up to an hour a day. The $3.3-billion infrastructure project is the largest in B.C. history. NDP transportation critic Harry Bains, who favoured lowering or eliminating the tolls in the first year since motorists

to take in $100 million in tolls in its first year – even with the discounts. Public unrest about Port Mann tolls have led some drivers to vow to boycott the new span. “You’re just going to move a bottleneck from one area to another,” Bains said, referring to concern drivers who refuse to pay will clog other roads in Surrey, Delta, New Westminster and Burnaby. “We believe there’s sufficient capacity to handle the people who might go elsewhere,”

wouldn’t yet have access to the whole bridge, nevertheless called it a “desperate attempt” by the government to shore up votes ahead of the provincial election. Tolls are required by law to cover the entire $3.3-billion cost of the Port Mann/Highway 1 Improvement project over its 40-year contract – including construction, operation and maintenance by the private partners and the financing costs of the provincial government. The bridge is expected

Polak responded, predicting once drivers try the bridge it will “change quite a few minds.” Polak said she’s “absolutely confident” a new Port Mann rapid bus running from Langley to Burnaby will be operating despite TransLink’s lack of funding for it. Ministry officials said there are no plans to charge to park at the new Langley park-andride, but the province will turn it over to TransLink, which would decide if fees were to be charged.

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Drivers crossing the new Port Mann Bridge will pay $1.50 a trip – half the price previously announced – as an introductory toll, and the provincial government is dangling more incentives to encourage users to sign up early. The cut rate applies for the first three months – until the end of February – but those who register for a tolling account by then will be guaranteed the halfprice toll for the first year, Transportation Minister Mary Polak announced Wednesday. And those who sign up by Nov. 30 also get a $30 credit, equivalent to 20 free crossings. A further 25-per-cent discount previously promised for registered HOV lane users during peak hours will apply on top of the introductory rate, meaning commuters who car pool will pay $1.13 per crossing for the first year. Frequent bridge users can also opt for an unlimited pass –  $75 per month for standard vehicles that register early. The introductory discount is being justified on the basis that only eight of 10 lanes of the new bridge will be operational when it opens in December, as the final two can’t be used through 2013 while the old bridge is being dismantled. “We concluded we could and should sharpen our pencils on the initial toll rate,” Polak said. “Drivers shouldn’t have to pay the full toll until

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Black Press

Richmond Review, September 14, 2012  

September 14, 2012 edition of the Richmond Review

Richmond Review, September 14, 2012  

September 14, 2012 edition of the Richmond Review