Death By Toll

Is anyone surprised by this?

If you are, you are either residing outside Metro Vancouver or you are living in a bubble, because the taxpayer is maxed out.

The BC Liberal regime of Gordon Campbell has off-loaded so many user fees, taxes and other costs on to the backs of taxpayers that he has all but paupered the average family and tolls on bridges is seen as nothing more than double taxation.

Of course the transit funding referendum is doomed; it was doomed from the start because the Liberal government wants it to failAi?? for their own political reasons, but something more is happening.

The public hate tolls, which translates into “the public hates the government“. A seething hatred of tolls spells big trouble ahead for present government, with grandiose highway and bridge plans, such as the uneeded multi billion dollar Massey tunnel replacement, all planned to be paid for by tolls or road pricing.

As for regional transit, forget it, not going to happen because the ALRT/ART SkyTrain lines needs major refurbishments, costing well in excess of a billion dollars and with the government unwilling to look at much cheaper light rail, the current metropolitan rail network will stagnate because it is much too expensive to build.

The lesson is very clear; Metro Vancouver and TransLink will not be able to afford new transit lines in the near future and it is time the South Fraser Cities and Municipalities realistically at succession from TransLink and go their own merry transit way, using much cheaper, yet just as effective modern LRT. The question is; “Will South Fraser politicians heed the warnings?”

Drivers hate the Port Mann toll more than ever: poll

Mayors argue funding referendum is doomed to fail By Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver SunDecember 14, 2013

As opposition to the Port Mann Bridge toll intensifies, a referendum to work out payment options for long term transit funding will likely be a hard sell to voters.

New poll results show that opposition to the toll is so great that many people avoid the bridge and use it less now than when it first opened.

Metro Vancouver mayors have long lobbied the provincial government to allow more stable transportation funding options such as a vehicle levy, a regional carbon tax or mobility pricing ai??i?? such as charging drivers per kilometre driven. The money would be used to pay for transportation infrastructure such as rapid transit lines in Surrey and Vancouver and a new or refurbished Pattullo Bridge.

The province has rejected most of their suggestions, with Premier Christy Clark announcing a referendum to gauge public support, slated for the ballot during the Nov. 15, 2014 municipal elections.

But Metro mayors argue the referendum is doomed to fail, noting other successful referendums have involved a broad coalition of all levels of government, as well as years of public education.

Los Angeles, for instance, spent 32 months preparing for its referendum on transportation funding, which was passed at 67 per cent, said Richard Walton, chairman of the TransLink mayorsai??i?? council on regional transportation. Yet the B.C. government hasnai??i??t even come out with a ballot question, with the premier suggesting it will be multiple choice and Transportation Minister Todd Stone insisting it should be a clear and concise yes or no question.

ai???You have to educate the entire region,ai??? Walton said. ai???There has to be something identifiable in each community thatai??i??s going to improve their quality of life. Itai??i??s doable but itai??i??s a complex task that has to be done properly. Thereai??i??s no room for error. If people see it as a tax grab, theyai??i??ll vote against it.ai???

The Insights West survey, released Friday, shows more than half of Metro Vancouver residents are opposed to a $3 toll to cross the Port Mann Bridge next year, while 31 per cent are against paying anything at all.

ai???Despite one year of satisfactory usage of the Port Mann Bridge, the issue of tolling remains contentious and opposition to the tolls has intensified,ai??? Mario Canseco, vice-president of public affairs at Insights West, said.

The online survey of 690 Metro Vancouver and Fraser Valley residents suggests one in four residents are driving over the bridge less often than they did a year ago when the $3.3-billion crossing opened, while almost half of those surveyed still continue to use and pay the toll.

About 31 per cent of those surveyed say they will actively seek new routes in 2014.

About 37 per cent are in favour of the Port Mann Bridge toll rising to $3 from $1.50 per crossing ai??i?? a 14-point drop since a similar Insights West poll conducted in December 2012. At the same time, opposition to the toll has increased to 56 per cent from 45 per cent last year.

Those living south of the Fraser are most unhappy, with 72 per cent of those who use the bridge at least once a week opposed to the toll, along with 57 per cent who rely on the bridge one to three times a month.

ai???Thatai??i??s fairly predictable for anywhere in the world,ai??? Walton said. ai???Itai??i??s an unfair imposition on them. They donai??i??t see fairness in the system … some people can travel a long distance in Metro Vancouver without ever having to cross a bridge. Others drive a shorter distance but have to cross a bridge. There shouldnai??i??t be unreasonable penalties for people.ai???

Many mayors had opposed the idea of a referendum next year, saying it separates transit funding from overall infrastructure for roads and bridges and would further delay priority projects if it fails. They also wanted the referendum to be held before the municipal elections to prevent the issue from becoming a campaign issue.

Walton noted that while TransLink has a strong reputation abroad, some of its decisions have rankled residents and municipal officials. ai???Thereai??i??s no question many will be looking to the election to express their views on TransLink,ai??? he said.

But Stone maintains an election is the best time to hold a referendum because it allows the public to be involved in the debate.

He noted a positive referendum result is crucial in moving both goods and people efficiently, especially as Metro prepares to welcome another one million people in 30 years. He maintains he is working closely with the mayors and the province to ai???define a vision for transit and transportation expansionai??? and, while the details still have to be worked out, he is committed to having a successful referendum.

ai???I completely appreciate that some of the mayors are frustrated by the lack of progress. I count myself in that group,ai??? Stone said. ai???We have a lot riding on this as a province.

ai???We need to make sure the referendum question is a made-in-B.C. model and reflects the different choices. Thereai??i??s a lot of discussion that still needs to take place at the cabinet table. The issue for me is to make sure we assess every funding lever and come together with the mayors on this.ai???

NDP TransLink critic George Heyman said Clark should let Stone do his job, pointing out he is the third minister to be appointed since the province signed a memorandum of understanding on transportation funding with the mayors three years ago.

Canseco noted there may be a way to make the referendum palatable but maintains the issue has similarities to the HST: ai???Youai??i??re reminded youai??i??re paying for the bridge every time your cross,ai??? he said.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

ksinoski@vancouversun.com

Comments

3 Responses to “Death By Toll”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Is there a transit only lane on that bridge? It seems the right of way is very wide and it should have one in each direction.

    Zweisystem replies: I believe so, but like the Alex Fraser Bridge, transit lanes tend to disappear.

  2. jim says:

    There is no transit lane on the bridge. The bridge isn’t even finished at either end, and does not have all of the lanes. There probably will be a transit/or hov lane when it is done but that is not there yet. It doesn’t need it anyways, the bridge is wide enough that transit doesn’t get held up, traffic is held up at choke points that simply moved further down when the bridge widened.

  3. Aaron says:

    There’s no Transit lane on the bridgee. There is an HOV lane on the bridge that busses use, and there will be a transit only on/off ramp at Goverment so that busses going over the bridge can terminate at lougheed station. Also there are HOV only ramps at Grandview in Burnaby, 156st in Surrey and 202st in Langley.

    Zwie, I doubt the HOV lane will disappear on the bridge, the original Port Mann was modified to add a 5th lane going eastbound that was what the HOV terminated into prior to the construction of the new bridge. Now, the HOV lanes Extend from the Grandview HOV access to the 202st HOV access.

    Zweisystem replies: I did not mean a HOV lane, rather a transit lane dedicated to buses only as was the original promise of the Alex Fraser Bridge.