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Toll removal will increase traffic, change where congestion occurs: SFU expert

The Port Mann Bridge (Courtesy pmh1project.com)
Summary

By removing tolls, more people may choose to drive

Congestion may initially drop at Pattullo, Alex Fraser Bridges, but increased traffic overall may mean new choke points

LOWER MAINLAND (NEWS 1130) – The province’s move to scrap tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges will change your commute. But it’s still unclear what it will mean for traffic flows and volumes in our region.

By removing the tolls, Gord Price with SFU’s City Program believes more people will choose to drive.

“If you build an urban region that’s designed for the car, you get more cars,” says Price. “If you build it around transit, Vancouver an example built around the electric streetcar back in the day, still functions pretty well with a more balanced system.”

So while in the short term congestion may drop at the Pattullo and Alex Fraser bridges, the increased overall traffic could create new choke points.

“The idea of having a free road just encourages more traffic,” says Price. “Eventually there is some kind of congestion point, whether it’s the kind of mass congestion that occurs at rush hour, or it moves the traffic further along to the next congestion point.”

Price also believes this move will lead to more people moving to the suburbs now that they won’t have to pay the toll.


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Truckers will likely start taking more direct routes: BC Trucking Association

The BC Trucking Association thinks getting rid of tolls will motivate drivers to take an efficient route.

“We’ll have traffic movements that are more natural, so to speak. Natural in the sense that people will now be driving to and from their destinations in a more direct route,” says Louise Yako, who speaks for the organization.

“We anticipate that the Pattullo Bridge will be a much more free-flowing bridge, primarily because that seemed to be the option of choice for drivers,” she adds.

Yako expects more owner-operators of commercial trucks will choose the Port Mann bridge than they were doing before, which could ease congestion on the Pattullo.