“The B.C. government is getting rid of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges starting Sept. 1, Premier John Horgan has announced.”
The Premier and assorted ministers articulated the reasons they’re getting rid of tolls – effectively on all existing and new road-and-bridge projects:
- Reduce costs for drivers
- Reduce congestion
- Reduce impediments to movement across the region
You can do one or two of those goals; you can’t, over time, do them all. Less visible cost per trip, the more incentive to drive. The more incentive to drive, the greater the likelihood of congestion. And hence more impediment to movement – unless, of course, the belief is that we’ll build and widen more bridges and roads, which will all be ‘free’, thus continuing the fruitless cycle.
Three other impacts:
- This is the end of the public-private partnership for funding infrastructure that requires a cash flow generated by the infrastructure funded. (In other words, a perpetual money-machine, where debt to build infrastructure created more cash flow to generate more debt to build more infrastructure.)
- Good luck to the ‘Mobility Pricing Independent Commission’ set up by the Mayors’ Council to explore the feasibility of road pricing. The NDP decision today reinforces the notion that no senior government will accept a proposal that would require them to spend political capital to impose a visible charge on road users.
- Though the government didn’t say so, I’m sure one of their goals would be to reduce sprawl in the Lower Mainland. But as of today, that goal not only got so much harder, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s an uptick in housing costs east of the Port Mann.