SURREY (NEWS 1130) – It’s a big day for drivers — you can now cross the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges for free! The tolls disappeared at midnight. So what does it mean for businesses south of the Fraser River?
“I don’t think there’s going to be any impact at all,” says Anita Huberman with the Surrey Board of Trade.
“People who are moving around the region — moving from one place to another across the river — they’re going to have more options.”
Hubberman says the Board of Trade is okay with the idea of removing tolling. She thinks the move gives shoppers greater flexibility, which could benefit local businesses.
“They’re going to have more options, in terms of the Pattullo Bridge, the Alex Fraser Bridge, [and the] Port Mann Bridge. I think with more people moving into the region, there will be more chokepoints.”
She says the removal of tolls serve as an opportunity for businesses in Surrey to find ways to bring people into the city with more road options.
“We also now are looking at ways to fund transit and transportation infrastructure and make it fair for business,” adds Huberman, who says the removal of tolls isn’t the end of the discussion about transport and transit.
“It’s a beginning of a new conversation with a new government, and business is part of it.”
She argues we can’t just be a car culture. “We need to take a look at innovative transportation solutions.”
Traffic flows may change
Given that we are heading into the long weekend, today isn’t the best day to tell if commuters are flocking to the newly toll-free Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges.
However Darren Grieve in the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol expects things will change.
“The Port Mann, obviously, people are going to start using that a little bit more, but the Pattullo Bridge might see a little extra volume, too. If people are nervous about the Port Mann itself being busy, they might stick with that route for a little while.”
But Darren says the true test will be in a week or two when everyone gets back to their regular routine.