There has been some disappointing rhetoric about bridges, tolls, and congestion coming out of the stirred soup of next month’s Provincial election. While one candidate wants to restrict Port Mann bridge vehicle tolls to a 500 dollar annual upset amount-after that you are driving for “free”-another candidate says they will take away tolls entirely. Of course both of these approaches will induce further demand for vehicular travel, and further accentuate the 20th century approach to motordom where the car is king. Missing in this posturing is the reasoned and prudent approach to encouraging mass transit and car share, moving in the region as if livability and accessibility matter.
Metro Vancouver mayors have been discussing an approach reported by Marcello Bernardo with CKNW “seeking approval to toll all bridges, so the money collected can be spent on transit improvements, but there’s been resistance from Victoria. The Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges have also been losing money because many drivers take alternate toll-free crossings.”
In Metro Vancouver “Port Moody Mayor Mike Clay says both pledges send the wrong message.You need to pay for this infrastructure somehow and you need to make it a little bit of a social penalty for encouraging people not to drive everywhere in their cars.” Clay is one of several Metro Vancouver mayors pushing for every bridge crossing in the region to be tolled.“Why isn’t it a dollar or two dollars on every bridge crossing?”
Mayor Clay also mentions a conundrum-while gas tax go to fund transit systems, electric cars are not taxed, and in “some cases, we’re supplying the electricity for the cars, so we need to be very careful about doing things that encourage sprawl and encourage the use of a single-occupant vehicle.”
And the big question-why are the political parties not talking to the Metro Vancouver Mayors Council about how to best move (no pun intended) the region forward? Most mayors will agree further growth and development needs to concentrate on transit hubs and stations, focusing on public transit, not the private automobile.