... pretty (really?) soon its gonna cost you tons more - all for Translink - check this out:
Port Mann Bridge toll doesn't go far enough, says expert
The B.C. government’s introduction of a $1.50-a trip toll - half the originally proposed amount - along with incentives for signing up early to a Port Mann Bridge tolling account are a step in the right direction, but don’t go nearly far enough, says a former Vancouver city councillor and urban planning expert.
Gordon Price, director of the City Program at Simon Fraser University, argues for a more comprehensive road pricing strategy -- opposed in a current provincial policy requiring at least one free crossing for every route, with tolls only on new infrastructure -- to reduce car commuting and fund TransLink expansion.
For now, however, Price cites several reasons to keep, and even increase, the minimal bridge toll: “Got to have it .... One, TransLink needs money if we want the kind of transportation system that actually works for the region. We’re in quite a tragic situation at the moment.
“You’ve got to move forward on transportation funding.”
He says unequal taxing of certain drivers in the form of bridge tolls is just one reason to eventually do away with the plan in favour of more comprehensive, high-tech solutions.
“What’s the point of just tolling bridges. Take me, I live and work downtown. Why should I be exempt?” he said. “I get all the benefits of a regional transportation system. But if it were just a matter of tolling on bridges, I’d be toll-free.”
Price points to Oregon, where drivers are experimenting with a user-pay system where in-vehicle software tracks how far, when and where a person drives. This allows pricing based on distance, time and location, with potentially higher rates at more congested hours and areas.
“That’s probably the most direct and efficient mechanism of road pricing,” Price says, acknowledging it could raise personal privacy concerns.
On Wednesday, Transportation Minister Mary Polak said the new bridge will reduce the worst traffic bottleneck in B.C. About 120,000 people cross Port Mann Bridge daily, she said, and drivers have told her that the time they save in traffic - the new bridge and associated highway widening are expected to save commuters an hour - is worth the toll.
North Vancouver District Mayor Richard Walton agreed, arguing the move was a “prudent” one by the province that will ensure people use the bridge. “It really is about getting people to use the bridge,” he said.
Price doubts the long-term efficacy of plan: “You can’t point to a place on the planet that solved congestion by building more roads and bridges.”
Proximity to public transit, which needs to be enhanced through a broader road pricing scheme, he says, is a major economic incentive and contributes to quality of life, not just environmental efficiency, trumping car accessibility in both respects.
“When [real estate marketer] Bob Rennie gets up and says it’s not location, location, location, it’s transit, transit, transit; when you sell out 400 suites in a couple days because of it’s on a transit line; when you look at the homes section, the scale of development that’s going up because it’s all near SkyTrain stations, well, where do we think the money should go?” he says.
At present, TransLink has only three ways to raise funds: through the gas tax, through property taxes or increasing fares for transit users