The NDP promised to eliminate bridge tolls, but could mobility pricing be on the way?

Click to play video 'Bridge tolls reality check' Bridge tolls reality check
Wed, May 31: The NDP wants to scrap bridge tolls, the Greens want to keep them but will go along with what the NDP tables in the budget. Ted Chernecki explains what could happen if tolls do go away – May 31, 2017

The New Democrats and Greens have forged an alliance to form a minority government, but bridge tolling is one issue where they’re agreeing to disagree.

The NDP campaigned on a promise to eliminate tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges while the Greens said they would implement a “rational” tolling system.

“We do not support the issue of tolls, but it’s much bigger than just tolls,” Green Leader Andrew Weaver said.

On Tuesday, NDP Leader John Horgan said eliminating “unfair” tolls will be a priority.

“We’re going to work with the Mayors’ Council, we’re going to work with members of the legislature to come up with a framework to build the transit and transportation infrastructure we need in British Columbia but we’re going to do it in a way that is fair to all British Columbians,” he said.

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If such tolls go away, Metro Vancouver drivers could end up facing some sort of “mobility pricing,” an idea that the Mayors’ Council believes could help pay for billions of dollars in transit and infrastructure improvements.

From 2014: What is mobility pricing?

“Mobility pricing” is an approach that involves charging people for their use of the road network, using tools such as road tolls, as mentioned in the Mayors’ Council’s 10-Year Metro Vancouver Transportation Plan.

Simply put, mobility pricing means the more you drive, the more you pay.

Advocates say mobility pricing is a more fair way to pay for infrastructure projects, as it transfers the costs of roads and bridges to the people who use them most. They also say it could reduce congestion.

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During the campaign, Weaver told Global BC’s legislative bureau chief Keith Baldrey that he would support the Mayors’ Council’s transportation plan.

“Using mobility pricing is a direction that maybe we’ll go,” he said. “However, we need to get public transit options in place first and foremost.”

— With files from Ted Chernecki