Toll-free Port Mann Bridge sees jump of 30K crossings a day

Click to play video: 'Bridge traffic before and after Port Mann tolls end' Bridge traffic before and after Port Mann tolls end
Video captured from the Global 1 helicopter shows bridge traffic before and after the end of tolls. Can you see a difference in congestion? – Sep 6, 2017

It will surprise few people to learn traffic has picked up on the Port Mann Bridge in the absence of tolls.

But new numbers from TransLink showing just how much it’s increased might surprise you.

LISTEN: Traffic spikes on toll-free Port Mann bridge

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READ MORE: B.C. NDP eliminating Golden Ears and Port Mann bridge tolls starting Sept. 1

According to TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, the span has seen an average weekday increase of 30,000 crossings.

Meanwhile, crossings at the nearby Pattullo have dropped by about 12 per cent.

READ MORE: Infrastructure funding in the spotlight as bridge tolls fall

“That is actually fairly close to what the TransLink modelers would have predicted,” Desmond said. “By eliminating a price you will induce more demand.

“We know when the Port Mann toll took effect, immediately we saw a demand on the Pattullo. So it’s a price signal and people respond to that.”

Desmond added that it could take time for drivers to settle into new patterns.

READ MORE: Annacis Island businesses cheer as NDP axes bridge tolls

“Is it induced travel, are they shifting their trips in different ways? We won’t know that for a while,” he said.

Meanwhile, Desmond said, traffic on the Golden Ears Bridge is also up at least 25 per cent.

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Desmond also weighed in on the future of the aging Pattullo bridge, which he said has cost $50 million in repairs since 1999.

“We’ve been talking about retiring this old war horse for a long time and we need to get it done,” he said.

“It’s 80 years old, it’s frankly 30 years past its useful life, its design life. It was designed for roughly a 50-year service.”

Desmond said he’s optimistic a funding agreement for a new crossing will be reached soon with the province.

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