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Parties pitch bridge toll reductions

Commit to funding transit instead, says Langley City mayor
Traffic on the Golden Ears bridge. The two main political parties are promising to cut or reduce tolls if elected on May 9. File photo

Langley City mayor Ted Schaffer has expressed concern about Liberal and NDP pre-election proposals to reduce or eliminate bridge tolls, warning the money to pay for building those bridges will have to come from somewhere.

“At the end of the day, the bridges still have to be paid off,” Schaffer said.

“The debt doesn’t go away.”

On Sunday, the B.C. Liberals promised to cap bridge tolls at $500 a year if elected.

Later the same day, the NDP pledged to eliminate them.

Under the Liberal plan, drivers using the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges would pay no more than $500 a year, a potential annual savings of over $1,000 a year for commuters.

Preliminary estimates placed the annual cost to government of $30 million in lost revenue under the Liberal plan.

“Our commitment to growing the economy and controlling spending means that we are able to make life more affordable for people using toll bridges in the Metro Vancouver area,” said Abbotsford West Liberal candidate Mike de Jong.

NDP leader John Horgan pledged to make the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges free to drivers.

“Eliminating the tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears crossings is one way that we will put money back in commuters’ pockets and get people moving again,” Horgan said.

He said the Liberal failure to fund public transit is forcing more Lower Mainland commuters into cars, where they pay costly tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges.

Schaffer said he would have liked to see the two main parties commit funding for public transit to get people out of their cars and off the bridges.

“It’s easy to say no more tolls, but is that debt going to be paid out of general tax revenues?” Schaffer said.

Township mayor Jack Froese was not available for comment.

The BC Green Party said removing bridge tolls would just encourage more single occupancy vehicles.

With files from Black Press

Dan Ferguson

About the Author: Dan Ferguson

Best recognized for my resemblance to St. Nick, I’m the guy you’ll often see out at community events and happenings around town.
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