Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Port Mann Tolls

with 3 comments

Once again I got a last minute plea from the CBC to appear on the evening news to talk about the announcement of an increase in tolls next month. It seemed to me that there was little to say, and that over an hour’s travel for a few minutes screen time not very productive, but they sent a camera man to Arbutus Village and I stood in the park. I did not know that the new technology they use relies on the cell phone network, which is why those trucks with dish antennas are no longer needed. When my segment got broadcast it was very obviously cut short as the sign off was missing. I had been asked what the solution was to increasing tolls – and clearly the CBC did not like the answer. I had managed to get in a shot at how the much vaunted lowest income tax in Canada has been brought about by increases in all kinds of fees and charges – tolls, MSP premiums, ferry fares – and how wages were not keeping pace with the increasing cost of of living in the region.

But it was only later that I realized that I had missed on a real solution. My moment d’escalier was the memory of how people coped with tolls (and SOV line ups) on the Golden Gate Bridge by forming last minute car pools. These days no-one has to risk anything by lining up at on ramps. You can – of course – do it on-line. If the increase from $3.00 to $3.15 a crossing is a real issue for you go check out car pool, rideshare and van pool information on Translink ‘s web page. You can easily avoid the congestion on the Patullo and halve the cost of the toll. You can also share rides on Hitch Planet.

There were a couple of graphics that I had sent the CBC producer that did not make it to air, which is a shame. The first is a good effort by Jeff Nagel using recent data to show how people have been gradually getting used to paying $3. I personally doubt the $0.15 will cause much more than a short term blip, but I do think people are right to expect more increases in future. The toll company blames their rising operating costs – but if interest rates start increasing that will be the real stimulus for faster toll rises.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 8.00.49 AM

The second one is a bit older, and is from Sightline, and shows how the real traffic data compares to the forecasts

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 8.04.04 AM

The red line should just dribble across a bit further. It certainly has not been sticking up like the forecasters thought.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 31, 2015 at 8:09 am

3 Responses

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  1. After reading a lot of your good ideas in your blog in the past I also was very disappointed by your response on CBC. I think that you are so focused on a single issue that you are missing the big picture: Business have no right to run public infrastructures. They are in such business to make money not to serve the public. Regardless of political strips public infrastructures are meant to serve the public. Surrey’s previous mayor Diane Watts was right in saying if we are going in this direction there should be tolls on all crossing. The user pay philosophy is nothing but backward small mind thinking. Adam Smith would roll in his grave to see what our capitalist system has become.

    By the way nice to see you back on Flickr.

    Claude Fiset

    August 3, 2015 at 10:50 am

  2. I do not get to set the agenda when I talk on the CBC news. The P3 was not part of the discussion, and as a regular reader of this blog you know my views on that issue. As I also pointed out what I did say was significantly truncated.

    In any event it is not a question of “rights”. The present government puts the interests of large corporations ahead of everything else. Serving the public is no longer their concern.

    Stephen Rees

    August 3, 2015 at 11:09 am

  3. Most listeners even at the CBC do not have the intellectual capacity to understand or care to understand complicated and important issues when only headlines count. Next time why not make a bold statement that would be guaranteed to not be truncated like what you just wrote.
    Speaking of headlines, I am just about at that point so I can sleep at night.
    But a big thank you for your great mind. We sure need more like you.

    Claude Fiset

    August 3, 2015 at 11:41 am

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