PORT COQUITLAM (NEWS 1130) – You won’t be paying tolls much longer. Starting September 1st, the NDP government will no longer send you the bill to cross the Port Mann or Golden Ears bridges.
“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,” says Premier John 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.”
For commuting families, the province estimates the savings could be in the range of $1,500 per year.
“We anticipate I believe it’s $132 million of costs this year. We can manage that within our fiscal framework and it will not have an impact — we believe, in our discussions with bond raters — it will not have an impact on our borrowing costs,” says Horgan.
The province will now transfer the bridge debt into general debt.
“This is traditionally how all infrastructure has been paid for across British Columbia, with the exception of the Coquihalla improvements that were made in the 1980s.”
There will be discussions with TransLink about what will be done about lost revenue.
“Many people have been travelling out of their way to avoid tolls because they simply cannot afford them,” says 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.”
People who still have unpaid tolls until August 31st will have to pay those fees in order to renew their driver’s licenses.
Several jobs that will be lost at TReO, the company that collects tolls, as a result of this decision. The province says there will be severance for those workers.
Transportation Minister Claire Trevena says it’s unfortunate people are being let go.
“It’s going to have a direct impact on many workers. There are 90 people who work in the tolling section of the Port Mann, and there are people who work in the tolling section of the Golden Ears. There are obviously the staff at TI Corp.”
She adds they are working with workers who are affected to figure out if they’ll move to other departments, get other roles or be offered severance packages.