News / Vancouver

Delta mayor wants all Metro Vancouver bridges tolled $1

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson thinks tolling every crossing in the Lower Mainland would generate $378 million a year for transit funding.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson is floating the idea of a $1 toll on all 12 bridges and one tunnel in the Lower Mainland.

Jennifer Gauthier/Metro

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson is floating the idea of a $1 toll on all 12 bridges and one tunnel in the Lower Mainland.

A $1 toll on all Metro Vancouver crossing would generate $378 million a year, according to Delta’s mayor.

Mayor Lois Jackson floated the idea publicly Tuesday, after having her staff crunch the numbers in the aftermath of the region’s failed plebiscite on a sales tax for public transit funding.

Using traffic data from 2011, the report suggests the region stands to make $378,140,000 a year by charging $1 every time a vehicle crossed one of the region’s 12 major bridges and tunnel.

That’s more than enough to fund the region’s share of the Mayors Council on Regional Transportation’s proposed 10-year, $7.5 billion transit plan.

“I guess I’ve gotten a bit impatient,” Jackson told Metro. “I’ve been supporting this idea for 10 to 12 years and it’s never been pursued, it’s never been analyzed, so I had staff take a look.”

Jackson said the estimate is a conservative one and that tolling all bridges equally would alleviate the volume and revenue problems plaguing the few existing toll bridges, like the Port Mann.

“People would take the shortest option instead of going around the long way and huffing and puffing in traffic,” said Jackson. “User-pay works and it’s fair.”

Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs says Jackson’s proposal hits on an issue the region and province must address eventually.

“I think all of these issues have to be approached from a regional perspective,” said Meggs. “The problem we face with this is that the province controls some tolled bridges, but not all of them. There needs to be a rationalization of the system.”

Crossings like the Port Mann and George Massey are owned and operated by the province, while TransLink is responsible for others, like the Pattullo Bridge.

Meggs added that, traditionally, bridges in this region have only been tolled to pay for their construction so tolling all crossings to generate funding revenue would be a shift in philosophy.

Road and public transit networks need to be better integrated to give people choice, he said.

The province’s transportation minister, Todd Stone, welcomes the feedback but said there’s no rush to make a decision just yet.

It won’t be another five or six years until replacements for the George Massey Tunnel and the Pattullo Bridge (if TransLink decides to move ahead with it) are built.

Stone indicated that would be a better time to consider a policy change.

“There is no imperative in my mind to set an artificial deadline on this. There’s plenty of time ahead to have a vigourous debate across the Lower Mainland on the concept of tolling and potentially some form of regional tolling,” Stone said. “As it stands at this moment, the provincial tolling policy is still very balanced. It provided for there being a free alternative.”

Volumes have gone up on all Lower Mainland crossings, he said.

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