From The Sun (May 14, 2016):

… the Pattullo Bridge rehabilitation project … means more revenue for the tolled Port Mann, which charges $3.15 per crossing for a small car and has struggled to lure drivers from free alternatives such as the Pattullo and Alex Fraser bridges.

Earlier this year, TI Corp. offered a $10 incentive to get drivers to sign up for electronic billing, following provincial budget estimates that showed the Port Mann had lost $86 million last year, with projected losses of $100 million in each of the next three years, pushing its total debt to $3.68 billion by 2018.

The losses are significantly higher than what was predicted in 2012-13, when the corporation forecast the net loss for 2014-15 would be $28.3 million. TI Corp. relies on the Port Mann tolls to pay off debt on the $3.3-billion bridge.


Here’s CTV’s coverage:



  1. Left unspoken – If a toll bridge can lose this much money, how much money are the untolled bridges losing?

    1. Yeah – that’s the double standard.

      It works against transit too – the assumption that everything should pay for itself.

      Transit will never pay for itself, neither will schools, social housing, social services, or health care – your taxes continually feed into those even if you personally do not use those facilities or services.

    2. The Port Mann tolls were brought in to cover the construction debt only, and have nothing to do with long-term operating expenses. Transit has a permanent toll called “farebox revenue” that covers about 50% of the permanent operating expenses of the regional transit system.

      In the context of full lifespan accounting, transit is orders of magnitude less financially wasteful and more efficient at moving people using a fraction of the energy.

    3. Likewise, for vehicle owners or lessees, there’s another permanent “toll” called automotive operating, maintenance and repair costs – including fuel and insurance. But note that for vehicle drivers, their labour is often provided free of charge.

      Users of car sharing services or taxis would more closely resemble the “farebox revenue” aspect.

  2. The Port Mann Bridge is clearly a great success. Less traffic – which is obviously partly due to more people pooling or taking transit. The other success is the elimination of daily congestion with polluting vehicles clogging the roads all around the river crossing. Less delays and stress. A win all around.

    1. Are you serious? That could have been achieved with the old bridge which had at least 60 years of life left. The $3 billion would have built some pretty awesome transit to really attract riders don’t you think?
      Mind boggling how people can turn building a car bridge into a boon for transit.

    2. Eric if the goal of the project was to get more people of the car, which if you only measure the bridge traffic that is true. Less traffic is on the bridge. Why not just put on a toll with no new bridge.

      Eric you must support road tolling then right?

      1. Those that designed and built the Port Mann Bridge intended to increase the use of transit and reduce congestion to better facilitate the flow of people and goods throughout the Metro region. They also encouraged car-pooling and exacting a toll on the bridge was not ignored in that decision.

        For all these reasons even a disinterested casual observer can ascertain that the bridge is obviously a success.

        Agreeing with this regressive form of deriving funds from the citizenry does not naturally flow from my observations.

        Tolling of the roadways will not do much except cause all products and produce to escalate in price. We must by now all have seen that the congestion charge introduced a few years ago in London is now irrelevant and the congested traffic is all back, except London has apparently become much more expensive for everything.

        Since we also all know that transit doesn’t make money we now have two ideas that increase the costs of living because they are all passed on, as they have to be. Road pricing is a lot like the idea of salvation through the gas tax. Tax one thing to fund another. It hasn’t continued to reap the rewards so Metro now wants to drop that idea. All it’s done is give TransLink funds while taking money away from the vast majority of the population, drivers. Including those that drive for professional and commercial purposes, so prices for services and goods all had to go up, making Vancouver less affordable for those in the lower earnings bracket. Transit costs money and everyone pays and tolling and road pricing will cost everyone too.

        1. So Eric simple question is the bridge a success because less people drive on it than the previous bridge?

        2. Why build a bigger bridge if the goal was to get more people onto transit?

          If tolling makes things cost more it can also reduce taxes by the same amount (minus administration costs). If net costs are higher it’s a taxing issue, not a tolling issue.

          Don’t blame tolls for higher costs. Blame a government that builds unnecessary bridges. You never gain financially by buying things you don’t need.

    3. The Port Mann is such a great success that road emissions will still comprise 30.1% of all GHG emissions in the Metro beyond 2020. So says a 2013 report by Metro Vancouver.

  3. Yes, the bridge is a success because less vehicles are driving over it. Some of those vehicles may well have more passengers than before. I mean, seriously, would anyone be pleased if the bridge were as congested as the old bridge?

    We know too that now for the first time ever, fast busses are going over the bridge. Our recent contributor and host here on Pricetags, Nathan Pachal, told us a few months ago that:

    “One of the targets set in the area transit plan was to see transit mode share in the South of Fraser increase to 7% by 2011. Transit mode share increased from 4.5% in 2004 to 8.5% in 2011. This is a marked increase, and really shows how TransLink has been investing in transit service in the South of Fraser. …” (That should make many transit lovers pleased)

    Nathan continued, “TransLink also planned on implementing frequent, all-day transit service along Highway 1 between Carvolth, Guildford, Lougheed Town Centre, and Coquitlam Town Centre. Due to funding constraints, TransLink was only able to implement the 555 express bus service.”

    At least now there is a fast-bus service over the bridge in less than 10 minute intervals during commuter times.

    One of the overwhelming reasons for the bridge was to allow a fast bus service across the Fraser River at that point. Nathan tells us that within the first year ridership exceeded anticipated projected numbers.

    Combine the probability of car-pooling and increased bus transit passengers and we might find that more people now cross the bridge than ever before.

    I suppose we could build loads of 40 storey towers in Norquay and Fraserview and smother Collingwood, Kensington and Strathcona with tight townhouses, then perhaps people wouldn’t have to buy in Surrey and Langley. It’s a choice.

    The bridge will be paid for, by the users and will live on after.

    1. Fast buses could have been achieved for under $100million using queue jumpers to the old bridge – relieving traffic congestion and offering more incentive for those stuck watching buses zoom by. The remaining $2.9billion could have been used to build the entire proposed Surrey LRT network and have money left over for other transit improvements.
      The results would have been far superior. Fewer people needing cars (or second cars) less pollution, less GHGs.

    2. Eric, the old bridge was congested by single occupant vehicles (over 70%). There were several far more reasonable options presented to Gordon Campbell and Kevin Falcon back in the day to keep the old bridge, which was a completely viable structure. These included:

      – queue jumping lanes for buses at both ends, which could have effectively made transit more attractive and taken people out of their cars, especially if coupled with several new express bus routes

      – queue jumping lanes at both ends for commercial trucks; if coupled with transit improvements, fewer cars would free up more road space

      – counterflow express HOV / transit lanes, converted to rail in future

      – re-engineering the old bridge to modern seismic, pedestrian and bike standards (cantilevered sidewalks) at a fraction of the cost, therein avoiding a huge debt and tolls

      There were two known factors that influenced these dudes. First, the road building consortiums had bent Gord’s ear, and whispered sweet nothings, made sweeter with donations, that utterly beguiled him into not only abandoning reason, but to build the road lobbyist’s most excessive wet dream by handing design control over to the boys trained in building Atlanta freeways. The company’s subsidiary now collects the tolls for a fee, but doesn’t have to worry about the risk because all financing risk was transferred to the taxpayers of BC when the consortium lost its borrowing capacity in the 2008-09 meltdown.

      Second, the suburban real estate reps seduced Kevin to the point he gave private talks at Valley real estate breakfasts promising, even while still the minister of transportation, a great new bridge to underpin car-dependent subdivision development.

      Neither dude is around to answer the previously forecasted criticisms about the project. However, Kev is now — oh the irony — a Valley real estate developer. We all know that is only a coincidence.

  4. PM bridge was a huge success and a massive win for Langley, Abbotsford commuters and commercial traffic & development into Fraser Valley (both commercial and residential). Ditto with Massey tunnel once it is in. While it is somewhat too big for today’s traffic volumes (8 lanes would have sufficed) it clearly is the right size for traffic in 2040 or 2060 when we have double the population here. A rail link on it would have been nice, but the traffic volume is too low today for it, but will increase in time as we ramp up the toll and the population base S/E of Fraser will quintuple from today’s low density numbers. Do we honestly believe a billion Chinese and a billion Indians, plus a host of other not-so-friendly nations with another billion or so people will stop coming to Lower Mainland ? How will they all get around ? On a wobbly bus ? On bikes ? on Rickschas ? On foot for a 30 km trip ?

    All bridge ought to be tolled, be it Massey, Alex Fraser, Patullo or the missing Boundary extension to Richmond.

    SFPR is already congested and way undersized.

    Where is the subway to W-Van, N-Van, N-Burnaby and S-Richmond ? In the absence of that a car is the only realistic alternative.

    1. Don’t forget, Thomas, more goods are now being delivered by cargo-bike.

      Soon we will see a fleet of cargo-bikes at the container terminal. Goods destined for Calgary and Chicago will be taken by an army of cargo-bikers.

      Beer from micro-breweries in Vancouver will be delivered across the region by cargo-bikes. Ikea is probably looking right now at how to configure a massive fleet of cargo-bikes for their furniture deliveries. Peach farmers in the Okanagan are trying to line up cargo-bikers for what’s being called a bumper early crop for thirsty Vancouverites.

      We’re heading back to that glorious time when the bike was king and cars were only for a very select few. Communities were clean and strong too.

      Here’s where we a heading:

      1. Great, Jeff. These are not for deliveries but for rent, in Europe. Of course, you know that.

        Might work well for enthusiasts heading home to Surrey, Langley, Aldergrove and Abbotsford from Ikea Coquitlam.

        I’ll look out for them heading home on the Port Mann Bridge.

        Must be fun going up Knight Street too.

  5. from the article:
    “Johnson (Greg Johnson, spokesman for Transportation Investment Corp.,) noted the bridge, which has a design life of 75 years, has the capacity to add several thousand more vehicles and is on track to repay its debt by 2050.

    Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said the Pattullo lane closures are putting more pressure on her communities, which include North Delta, Tsawwassen and Ladner, noting traffic on Nordel is backed up to Surrey and the morning rush hours have been extended past 9 a.m. because of gridlock on the highway.”

    TransLink owns the Pattullo Bridge and is missing all the federal infrastructure money that the Federal Government is now offering for projects exactly like replacing this 80 year old bridge.

    Once the summer disruptions are over and the bridge is OK to use again the Federal Government will not be interested in paying for a recently completely repaired bridge replacement.

    TransLink has been talking about replacing the Pattullo for many years but now they’ve lost an opportunity to have 50% of the funding from Ottawa. In addition to what the Conservatives had budgeted for infrastructure the Liberals added more billions. $125 billion over 10 years.

    The federal government is only interested in funding projects that have been planned, to the point where designs are finalized. TransLink and the Mayors Council should have anticipated this bonanza of Federal funding and proposed the Pattullo replacement.

    Just like the little patchwork done on the Lions Gate Bridge a few years ago, the congestion was never relieved. The Pattullo will be repaired and live on to become a nostalgic collectors item as one of the grand old steel bridges of early 20th century Canada.

    Don’t expect a replacement for many decades.

    1. A bypass tunnel around New West would be nice too as that traffic is very heavy too, and with a new Patullo bridge will worsen.

      Or, as yiu suggested, cargo bikes to the rescue. Or more porters with packs. So green. Also see similar plans in Ontario, to eliminate gas from the province with disastrous consequences for utility bills and investments: But perhaps all the investment into indigenous people will save us all.

        1. I’m looking seriously at those Tesla cars. Especially since the taxpayers are giving the company such huge subsidies it’s looking like a pretty good deal. I can charge up in VisionVancouver-Ville and it’s free too. With the saving from government subsidies and savings from no more TransLink gas tax with free charges we can go to English Bay, have lunch at the Cactus Club, charge up the Tesla and it pays for lunch. We’re lovin’ it.

  6. The bridge is empty = success!
    The bike lane is empty = Satan is running the show!

    LOL, love the pretzel logic it takes to justify road building.

    1. Yep. Even with the recent crumbs thrown to other modes it’s still big oil, big auto makers and all the others that still run the show.

      1. No one is forced to buy a car. Oil companies only produce what the market demands. With plenty of e-cars now available why are they not flying off the shelf and have less than 1% market share of new cars sold ? Tesla can make what 100,000 cars a year, maybe 500,000 in a few years ? That is still far less than 1% of the roughly 120,000,000 cars sold PER YEAR worldwide. Take a drive by bus, bike or trike or walk around Surrey, Langley or Abbotsford please. Hard to get around. Very hard. That is why folks get a car. What works in downtown Vancouver does not work everywhere.

        Truckers, farmers, mothers with three kids, large immigrant families of 12 with four cars in Surrey tend not to blog on this blog but they do behave rationally. If a bike or a bus were a real alternative they’d use it. But it ain’t in less dense suburbs !

        Please consider all social groups in planning or transportation choices not just the academic young urban professional in a dense city !

        The individual vehicle will be with us for decades although it will be more electric, more shared and more automated in time but it will not disappear !

        1. Okay, so behind your comment “The individual vehicle will be with us for decades” is perhaps the assumption that some bogie man is out there wanting to get rid of cars or something.
          I ask:
          Where did you get that idea?
          Is there any substance behind it?
          Would it even be possible, physically or politically, anyway?
          Why are tiny tiny bits of road space repurposed here and there considered to be such a big threat to a mode that dominates, is heavily subsidized and has a huge industrial complex lobby behind it?

          Anyone who relies on a car is under no threat to having it taken away. There might be a few places where they have to slow down for a bit and some places where they have to park and walk to access somewhere, some neighbourhoods where they have to go around the block and enter from the other side. That’s it! That’s the future. The private automobile is under no threat by anyone. If someone is telling you otherwise, they’re trying to scare you for some reason.

      2. Please consider all social groups in planning or transportation choices …

        An astute plea. I wish they’d consider publishing more research on the full costs of our road system, its externalities and its subsidies. An informed public will probably think more carefully about their choices, but in fact, it usually doesn’t hit them until it costs more directly. We now have a massive increase in housing prices in part as the result of a land supply crunch due to inefficient land use. Vancouver’s zoning map says a lot. The zoning in peripheral cities says even more about inefficiencies.

        Fuel is creeping up again. It could hit $2/litre by 2020 just as US fracking declines steeply and causes another big recession. Nothing like a two-headed impact on multiple-car families.

        So yes, let’s inform the public more.

    2. I’m inclined to agree with Stephen Rees, “Eric” is a troll with lots of time on his hands to bake gluten and evidence-free intellectual pretzels. I’m almost convinced he’s on Christy’s party executive and is actively lobbying for a well-paid chair on the road building & tolling consortium’s board.

      1. It’s clear that he likes to have everyone in his choir singing the same notes but I didn’t realize Reese was quite so thin skinned.

        1. The multiple warnings for telling untruths, before you were banned, didn’t help clarify the house rules?

        2. I don’t think you should be calling me a liar. I deal in facts that some find uncomfortable. My only agenda is honesty and practicality.

          That’s a nasty streak you are exposing Mr. Leigh.

        3. I didn’t call you a liar, Eric. I asked if the warnings you received on Stephen Rees’ blog weren’t clear, before you were banned. The written warnings including the reasons. I didn’t post in that thread, but I followed it.

        4. Jeff, when you refer to “multiple warnings for telling untruths” that’s over the line.

          Reese wrote, “The Canada Line would have got my vote as “a damned good project” if the profits from it were not being syphoned off by private sector contractors.”

          I pointed out that the federal Liberals under Jean Chretien demanded a P3 structure before they would release any financing (another fact) for the Canada Line. That is what Stephen Reese took umbrage over. He never accused me of any untruth. He continued,: “Under the BC Liberals everything has to be profitable to some private sector outfit – which means the revenue stream goes to the shareholders. That is why so many things now cost us more than they need to. Privatisation has been a disaster for public services.”

          Nevertheless, the Wynne government in Ontario is continuing with P3s for infrastructure developments.

          If you repeat the claim you obviously believe it since you tell us you followed the discussion. Then back up your claim Jeff. Where are my lies, untruths as you call them?

        5. Anonymous: “Where are my lies, untruths as you call them?”

          I don’t know. Who is anonymous? I was responding to Eric.

          See, that is a problem when one tries to post under multiple identities. Eventually they slip up.

          Eric, if you are reading, suggest you review the thread on Stephen Rees’ blog. That’s Rees without an e. See what you falsely attributed to others that they called you out on. And then think about whether perhaps there was a final (deleted) comment that resulted in you “being put on the bad boys list”.

          Enough about you. Let’s talk about the Port Mann.

      2. If it was my blog I’d have kept you on board for, if anything, entertainment value and to keep exercising the habit of checking sources.

        1. No kidding, it’s nice to have a little humour in all this. Eric and to a somewhat lesser extent thomas are both such caricatures it’s hard to take them seriously. Even when they actually have valid points, it’s masked in such sweeping stereotypes and generalizations it’s basically impossible to pull the good out of the nonsensical. I would say the same thing about Arno (I think his name?).

        2. I’m old enough to remember Archie Bunker’s pretzel logic. Eric and Thomas make me nostalgic for better ideas and counter arguments.

        3. In Thomas’s case, at least, I think he is sincere. I have encountered similar beliefs in others. I have even held some of them at one time.

  7. Some people recognize that the bridges need to be built if the rapid transit doesn’t exist.

    Some people that study urbanism recognize that suburbs are not the hell some others think.

    Monocle, from the Canadian, Tyler Brulé, who now lives in Europe frequently interviews and regularly publishes on urban affairs. Joel Kotkin could be talking about Vancouver when he spoke recently. Many urbanists dislike his point of view (hello Jeff and Stephen) but even the world wide broadcast of The Urbanist on internet hipster radio, tolerates his contrarian view because he could be speaking some truths worth considering.

    1. All views on mass expenditures of public resources require analyses, no matter what the ideology. The problem is that the ideology comes first in too many cases, and flies in spite of contrary evidence, even while draining taxpayer’s abilities to pay with projects with little or no returns on investment.

  8. (1) Had the old P M bridge been tolled , The discussion would be about how should the revenue be used. (2) HOV Q jumper lanes would have reduced the number of people stuck in traffic

  9. Anonymous above quotes Stephen Rees about P3s. That brings up an interesting recently announced project: Quebec’s pension fund, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, and its proposed funding of a new rapid transit line in Montreal.

    It’s essentially a 24-station driverless commuter rail line, not unlike SkyTrain but likely with significant stretches at-grade, which beings the capital cost down. Being driverless, the operating costs will be lower than LRT or non-automated subways, and the higher frequencies that can be achieved will attract ridership on its own.

    What’s interesting is that Caisse will be a majority 3/5ths investor (the province and feds will have to make up 1/5th each) and will likely take a revenue share from tickets for decades without operating the system under a private contract. There are no private profit-oriented shareholders, only the public pension fund that expects a certain return. The impetus to cheapen the design and charge extra for additional rush hour trains is diminished when a very long term view is part of the management psyche.

    Public pension funds have a huge economic pull and seem to be opening up to investment in public assets like transit and diversify away from private real estate. The returns will be almost in perpetuity. Governments will probably jump at the chance to invest minor shares in important public infrastructure, but it’s government that has to have ultimate control and lots of negotiating power. One should be very wary when a private multinational corporation offers a majority funding scheme in public assets. It seems ‘safer’ to some who see public pension funds as local with a board that is not offshore, or that aren’t subsidiaries, and whose shareholders are thousands of local public workers.

    1. One could imagine a few possibilities for pension fund investment in public assets:

      – Fund the tunnel boring for the Broadway subway and charge TransLink 15% of all ticket revenue on Broadway in perpetuity. The pension fund would own and maintain the tunnel, but could lease it to TransLink in affordable 50-year indexed agreements as an alternative to a percentage of revenue.

      – The same applies to transit bridges.

      – The public transit agency should control all transit operations and assets outside of the tunnel.

      – Bridges and tunnels should be designed and built to the highest engineering standards and tendered through experienced public agencies.

      – Finite fossil fuel will inevitably climb to new price heights. Emissions will eventually be priced fairly. These two issues will collectively impose a new long range transportation paradigm on the country. High speed rail will probably become common in the latter half of this century, maybe a little earlier if / when petroleum spikes. Pension funds could be presented as a way to bore hundreds of km of tunnels and bridges through seven BC mountain ranges and the Laurentians and leased back to a public agency with leases at terms far more agreeable than would be possible with private consortiums who have an immediacy about profits.

      Just thinking out loud.

      1. Indeed.

        Just look to Europe. They are ahead 20-40 years in terms of density, gasoline prices, car sizes, tunnels, road tolls .. no need to re-invent the wheel ..

        Population density dictates transportation policies! So what makes sense in Vancouver may not make sense in Surrey or Abbotsford, and what makes sense in the Quebec – GTA corridor may not make sense in the BC – AB corridor !

        Alberta is blessed with hundreds of billions of proven oil reserves, or well over 1T if you count (as at yet commercially) unproven. Canada also has coal, water, land, ports, diamonds, potash, uranium, apples, etc .. so the future is bright for Canada.

      2. The trouble with natural resources is that they are finite, and they are measured and advertised with great confusion (often purposely by predatory investment bankers and sympathetic columnists) between:

        – Resources: All the deposits in the ground, whether they are likely to be
        recovered or not.

        – Technically Recoverable Resources: Resources producible using current recovery technology but without reference to economic profitability.

        – Probable Recoverable Resources: Technically Recoverable Resources within broad play or field areas where discoveries have been made but where productive limits are undefined.

        – Proved Reserves: Those quantities that geological and engineering information indicates with reasonable certainty can be recovered in future from known reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions.

        Source: British Geological Survey Bowland Shale Gas Assessment, The Oil Drum, 2013 July 19, A.E. Berman, and Medlock. (Note Anthony Berman is a well-known and respected independent US petroleum geologist.)

        What actually comes out of the ground and enters the marketplace is always a tiny, tiny fraction of the total resource, which will never be fully exploited due to geological, economic and ‘laws of physics’ constraints.

        1. The limits on predatory practices seem to occur after reports are published by companies and fee-seeking investment managers, duly reported by certain media, with wild language exclaiming the “world’s largest shale gas deposit” (NE BC Montney and Horn River formations) and “US energy independence” (the five US shale formations, two of the largest of which are on the teetering peak before the plunge in production).

          This is why I enjoy it when geologists puncture their hype balloons with real analysis of actual production data and outline the limitations of the rock strata. Sometimes an economist will pick up on that and run with the conclusion that without diversification, an oil-dependent economy will experience great periodic setbacks. Needless to say, their reports do not often appear in the privately-owned press.

        2. Oil & gas investment, price and volume outlook for AB for the next decade and beyond No magic .. just solid steady state up up UP in a measured pace.

          I bet in 1000 years when our coal or oil is dry or too expensive to be commercially viably extractable we’ve figured out other alternatives. No need to rush it and force it with endless government subsidies aka Ontario’s mess, for example.

    2. Anonymous was me. I was on a different computer and didn’t even check to see if I was signed in. It just went through.

  10. I just finished reading most of the above comments & the most disturbing facet , albeit seemingly totally obscured to most if not all of you, is that your entire debate(s) are completely within the parameters which have been ‘spoon-fed’ to all of you, over decades of indoctrination by your masters. Despite all the ‘intellectual sparring’ you people continually engage in, you’ve only succeeded in clearly demonstrating your inabilities to think rationally OUTSIDE of the paradigm(s) we’ve been born & raised with. It is/will be, impossible to cohesively change anything wrong in our society, least of all population/traffic/toll bridge issues, so long as the so-called ‘intelligentsia’ (that’s you, i can tell by how you talk) among our ranks are so easily distracted/divided along such silly & irrelevant lines as demonstrated above. How your puppet-masters must be ever so mirthfully delighted by such exchanges… I however, am NOT. Although I cannot help but chuckle at the infantile & futile pseudo-attempts at ‘solving our social ills’ most of you’ve shown here. You people need to start doing some REAL research, instead of merely regurgitating the mainstream/gov’t approved versions & views of reality/history spoon-fed to you daily. Only when you people start to break your programming can any substantive ‘seeds of change’ even begin to take root. God help us, we’re in big trouble if this sort of thing continues…

    1. Awesome Edmund. Try to offend everyone without actually telling us anything. Please expand. I’m sure we’ll all get it.

  11. Christy Crackers $500 Port Mann toll cap to cost $30 million ???? Current revenue is $120 million. The same CREATIVE accounting could be used to justify a $500 TRANSIT toll cap

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