Port Mann Toll Booth Woes

It’s a story that has been around for a long time: twinning the Port Mann Bridge and adding a toll booth to it.

Now that I commute to Surrey every day, last Saturday’s Vancouver Sun article, about the possibility of a $2 toll on my new bridge, raised my blood pressure up a few notches.

The silver lining is that the toll booths won’t add minutes to an already severely boring drive:

Motorists using that road obtain and mount small electronic transponders on their windshields.

Electronic sensors over the highway pick up the signals from the devices which transmit each motorists’ individual vehicle account number and vehicle class — car, light truck or heavy truck.

The information is fed into a computer which can debit a prepaid toll account, or a bank account, or apply a charge to a credit card.

If you don’t have a transponder, a photo is taken of your licence plate and you are sent a bill for the amount owed.

The article, however, pointed out that commuters would go elsewhere:

It is suggested that the application of tolls would have the effect of driving down overall volume of vehicles — with as many as 25 per cent of car drivers choosing other routes to get to the north side of the region, including the Alex Fraser and Pattullo Bridges.

So much for the environmental aspects.

Transit is not an option for me.

Oh, don’t look so shocked. I’m not one of those rightwing anti-environmental nuts or a fanatic soccer mom glued to her SUV. I’ve been through the whole I’ll-be-a-martyr-for-the-environment thing.

After years of living in Vancouver to attend UBC, I decided it was time to stop throwing money at a dorm in the city and return to my parents’ rent-free shelter during my last year of university. I trudged through five hour commutes every day for a year because I believed mass transportation was the only morally correct thing to do.

A commute to Cloverdale, on the other hand, would involve a hopelessly convoluted journey, many hours long. On some days, I wouldn’t even make the last bus of the night. Then I would have to walk through a stretch of road through a forest in the dark. Yum!

Some people argue that one should live close to where they work. These people are unrealistic and thoughtless. No, I can’t move to Surrey. Yes, I would love to continue working five minutes from home. No, it’s not possible. As my current museum’s funds trickle away, I must seek greener pastures. Damn that I have to pollute them on my way there.

So I’m stuck with the tolls. The Albion Ferry takes too long, the route there goes over the hopeless Pitt Meadows Bridge. The Patullo Bridge goes through New Westminster, that inferno of traffic high drama. Both bridges are, furthermore, too out of my way.

What it all boils down to is, I need to find a job with the Vancouver Art Gallery. A comfortable trip on the exceptional Westcoast Express and I’ll be in heaven. That’s the real solution to my Port Mann woes.

1 Comment so far

  1. Anonymouse (unregistered) on February 5th, 2006 @ 8:38 pm

    A major choke point is the century old rail swing bridge beside the Patullo. It has to be mostly open during the day for marine traffic. This prevents getting a passenger train system like the West Coast Express setup on the south side of the Fraser. There are turf battles though as the Province, the Feds and Translink all play a role in the development of transit here and those organizations don’t play well together.

    Once the Golden Ears Bridge is built Translink has plans to link Langley up to the WCE.

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