In order to pay for the new Port Mann Bridge and the highway widening from Vancouver to Langley, an electronic toll will be in place for vehicles crossing the new bridge. This toll will be implemented once eight lanes on the new bridge open to traffic, significantly expanding the capacity of the existing five-lane bridge, and when highway improvements on either side of the bridge, from 160 Street in Surrey to Cape Horn in Coquitlam, are complete. These improvements will provide significant time savings, saving some drivers up to an hour a day.
Development of Toll
The tolling framework is being developed following an extensive public consultation process. The majority of the consultation participants, over 56 per cent, supported a proposed toll on the Port Mann Bridge. Support increased to 70 per cent and higher for a toll combined with options that provide reduced tolls for HOV users, and encourage large trucks to use the bridge during off-peak periods.
Consultations to date have included a series of over 50 stakeholder meetings with representatives from 700 stakeholder groups, and 13 public open houses in communities along the PMH1 Project corridor. In total over 3,400 individuals participated in the consultation program.
In accordance with these results, a tolling framework based on the principles of ease of use, superior customer service, convenience and fairness is under development. Incentives that recognize the travel patterns of frequent users are also being considered. This final tolling framework will be released later this summer.
Tolling Options Considered
During the planning phase of the project, a number of options for the tolling system of the PMH1 Project were considered. This included an analysis of the possible use of a distance-based toll, where drivers are charged for the distance they travel. This is an alternative used to a point toll (like a toll booth) where drivers are charged when they cross a certain point, usually a bridge.
Following that analysis, a decision was made to use a point toll at the Port Mann Bridge. This decision is based on the fact that the bridge represents the single biggest component of the project (more than 50 per cent of the cost). The bridge is also primarily responsible for the current congestion and bridge users will therefore benefit the most from the project.
In addition, research indicates that a single point toll is the most effective means of maintaining efficiency and managing traffic. Tolling portions of the highway can have the effect of encouraging vehicles to leave the highway and use neighbourhood streets to avoid paying the toll.
The toll will be in place to pay for the cost of the PMH1 Project, including the new bridge and highway and interchange improvements. The tolls will be collected by the Transportation Investment Corporation (TI Corp) and used to pay directly for the costs of the project. Toll will not be directed to Provincial Government general revenues.
TI Corp operates under an agreement with the Province of British Columbia known as the Concession Agreement (CA). The CA puts into place the powers required for TI Corp to implement the project. Once the project is paid for, the tolls will be removed. This is expected to take approximately 40 years; the CA authorizes TI Corp to collect tolls for a period not to exceed 40 years.