Here’s Andrew Weaver’s release on today’s announcement:
Weaver statement on government’s decision to remove bridge tolls
VICTORIA, BC – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus, issued the following statement today in response to the government’s removal of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears Bridges.
“It’s unfortunate that the government has decided to proceed with this reckless policy,” said Weaver.
“There is no question that the affordability crisis facing so many British Columbians is a significant concern. However, this policy is high cost and low impact. There are lots of good, high return-on-investments decisions that government can make, such as education, student housing and child care. It is disappointing that the first major measure that this government has taken to make life more affordable for British Columbians will add billions of dollars to taxpayer-supported debt. Moreover, making such a massive addition to our debt risks raising interest on all debt, which ultimately prevents government from being able to invest more in important social programs.
“Tolls are an excellent policy tool to manage transport demand. Transport demand management reduces pollution and emissions, alleviates congestion and helps pay for costly infrastructure. That’s why, at the negotiating table when preparing our Confidence and Supply Agreement, we ensured that a commitment was included to work with the Mayors’ Council consultation process to find a more fair and equitable way of funding transit for the long-term. We look forward to that commitment being met so that British Columbians can have an evidence-based, truly fair approach to this file.”
 
As one commentator noted, the NDP may well have won the election as a consequence of their promise to remove tolls on the Port Mann.  It may have secured the needed ridings, particularly South of the Fraser.
But Weaver’s points are good – and deserving of a major policy debate in the House, particularly with respect to the implications for future decisions on road pricing.

Comments

  1. Andrew Weaver had a golden opportunity to do something about this when he had John Horgan begging for his support a couple of months ago.
    His protestations are really an expression of his pathetic negotiating skills.
    He was played.

  2. I’m not familiar enough with Parliamentary procedure or the details of the agreement of the Greens and the NDP, but 1) does this have to go before the Legislature; 2) could the Greens vote against this, but then 3) support the government on a confidence motion. Perhaps it’s part of the upcoming Budget, in which case the Greens are committed by their agreement to support the Government’s Budget.

  3. May people be reminded that the Golden Ears Bridge has a 35 yr. long contract with private operator for this bridge. The start of the contract was approx. 2009 –I think. It continues to be still public-private partnership infrastructure.
    It’s pretty scary in terms of future financial debt, unless Translink has negotiated a significant change in the contract.

  4. Weaver’s position is totally logical given the Green platform, but now that they will be under more public scrutiny, they need to be careful or they will paint themselves as being out of touch with working British Columbians,

    1. Why is his view logical ? Reducing tolls will INCREASE traffic. That is now green ?
      Yes, it makes sense to eventually replace that with an overall traffic management plans (as he correctly suggested) that is based on per km driven and/or by time of day, but that is a while off. Why not keep the toll in place until then ?
      Add to that the also proposed MSP removal and the way into debt debt DEBT is pre-programmed i.e. offloading current life style to future generations to pay. That is social justice ? That is green ?

      1. Hopefully the NDP/Greens have a long term plan that is a regional based approach to Tolling and this was just fulfilling a horrible election promise that was the cost of getting elected.

        1. Yup. Vote buying through stifling the economy AND excessive spending and thus MASSIVE DEBT creation is the hallmark of NDP victories anywhere.

        2. Thankfully it isn’t actually their track record. The Liberals are the ones who ramped up MASSIVE DEBT. But you can keep making yourself look foolish,

        3. Kindly look to AB and MB .. BC’s past and now on the federal and Ontario level (NDP policies in Liberal clothing) .. terrible for our next generation. Terrible. Party now .. pay tomorrow.

      2. “Why is his view logical ? Reducing tolls will INCREASE traffic. That is now green ?”
        No, it’s not green, and that’s why it’s logical that Andrew Weaver wants to keep the tolls in place.

  5. To start with, the bridge financing via tolls has been losing upwards of $100 million per year. This feeble attempt at user pay, with two alternatives close at hand was doomed to failure. At least now we won’t have one truck at a time occupying both lanes on the Patullo bridge gently trundling along slowing down dozens of cars at a time.
    Road pricing is a model that we should pursue, clearly pricing a small piece of it isn’t working at all. We should start with a regional per kilometer charge for the lower mainland, payable when insurance is renewed. If tolls are to be used, which I don’t think is a good idea toll them all or toll none. Some form of tax to discourage driving, along with economic incentives to take transit – e.g. freeze the fares for a while is supported by economists as good public policy.
    http://www.news1130.com/2016/02/17/port-mann-continues-to-be-a-money-loser-for-bc-according-to-numbers/

    1. Road pricing will never happen. No provincial government wants to get tarred with that. I can hear the slogans now: “The Green Party wants to tax your every move”. It’s merely a way for the mayors to download the responsibility of a tax increase to the senior level of government.
      The mayors should quit prevaricating and raise property taxes (nobody notices an extra $10-20 on a yearly bill) or ask the provincial government to levy a property surtax on homes worth over $2 million. Who feels bad about taxing the rich (except the rich of course).

      1. Road pricing is very high on the MetroVan agenda so I expect it to happen. The only questions are when and in what form.
        Vote buying in its most classic form by offloading debt service costs ( for bridge debt) to all of BC taxpayers especially those Liberal voters in interior BC ! It’s the start of a long slide into massive debt by excessive spending, cancelling or threaten to cancel large investment projects and making BC a less interesting place to invest in. Like in MB, AB or ON BC will be saddled with debt four or eight years hence.
        Why use a bus or car pool if car use is now rewarded again? We shall see how this first of many fractures between Green and NDP will evolve as we move to pipelines, min wage, Site C dam, MSP cuts, electoral reform and other fiscal measures.

  6. Two issues here.
    1. How to best pay for infrastructure.
    2. How to manage transport demand.
    Weaver and the Greens are wrong on both points.
    Debt is the perfect way to pay for a major capital project like a bridge, especially considering the low interest rate environment. This way it can be paid off via progressive income taxes. User fees in contrast for this use case are regressive in that they disproportionately impact the working poor.
    Road pricing is clearly needed to manage transport demand and reduce congestion, but tolls on a few bridges but not others is not comprehensive road pricing. We have seen the impact on the transportation system that this unbalance causes, as people drive to another crossing to skirt the fee. That problem needs to be addressed but is being ignored by the Greens here.
    Tolls vs road pricing is this circumstance are not the same concept, and it’s incorrect to use the ideas interchangeably. While tolls designed to pay down infrastructure costs will discourage people from using the infrastructure (if there is an alternative), it is not the same as a tax explicitly designed to reduce congestion. The price required to effectively discourage car use and increase use of public transit alternatives could well be much less than what is required to service the costs of the bridge.
    How would we implement a comprehensive road pricing across the region while maintaining tolls to pay down infrastructure costs? Would they stack? Would Delta residents pay $1 to cross the Alex Fraser while North Surrey residents paid an extra $4 on top of that for the Port Mann?
    It is both conceptually and I think politically difficult to combine these two policy goals into one tax concept. The idea of tolling bridges to pay for them needs to die so that a comprehensive congestion charge across the region can be created.
    The NDP have made many statements that they will work with the mayors toward a mobility pricing system. If the NDP pledge is in good faith, removing the tolls is the first step toward this.

  7. Gordon Price expressed my thoughts exactly on CBC today: great politics, bad policy. Courting the ‘burbs, etc.

  8. I think this article is appropriate to post here. I don’t know if it’s a real trend yet. And, we might not see it in Vancouver, but it sounds like Millennials may be starting to buy SUVs now. The lack of Millennial drivers may just have been because they postponed having kids to later in their lives.
    I wonder, are the demographics of the Lower Mainland burbs changing? I hear that Port Moody and New West are attracting a lot of young families. I don’t know if they’re buying cars though. Thoughts?
    http://jalopnik.com/the-millennials-are-buying-cars-now-that-theyre-having-1798303521

    1. I don’t know if we can trust an auto industry website like Jalopnik but of course all sorts of things are happening in this world. I think millennials will do whatever makes sense according to their situation much like anyone else. I think the thing was that they weren’t interested in car ownership as much as previous generations. Of course if there’s no choice, what are they going to do?
      The auto industry in the past was part of redesigning things to remove any transportation options besides the one that benefitted them. If you live in a place where you’re only given one choice you take that choice whether you’re keen on cars or not.

  9. Mr Weaver is a posterchild of how hypocrit a politician can be.
    Mr Weaver today indulge himself in the media to say all the bad he think of the NDP toll policy…but when it will be time to vote, Mr Weaver has already pledged, he will be a good poodle…and will vote the budget which will include the toll removal
    so please mr Weaver: Shut up…

  10. Or, Mr Weaver understands that we don’t live in a single issue society, and that getting significant portion of your platform passed is better than getting none of it passed.
    Thankfully, there are some grown ups in the room.

    1. Good perspective Jeff. That’s probably what Trudeau had to balance when he decided to approve the Trans mountain Pipeline.

    2. …someone has still to explain what “significant portion” of the BCGreen platform, which was not already in teh NDP program will get passed. At this time Weaver and other have been unable to articule it.
      in the meantimes. and as noticed by ‘HonestEd’: the NDP answer on futre road pricing scheme is very clear:
      https://i.cbc.ca/1.4262635.1503682994!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_620/john-horgan-tolls.jpg
      …message read and approved by the BC green. period.

      1. The message is not clear at all. Mr. Horgan also promised good cooperation with MetroVan which clearly is very much pro road pricing. But perhaps that is different than a toll ?
        As such, to me it is only a question of when and in what form road pricing ( aka road tolls ) will be implemented to manage demand & create revenue.

      2. Beside the fact Clark also promised good cooperation with MetroVan
        I wish you could be right Thomas but here is how pundits read it:
        https://twitter.com/jordanbateman/status/901131763375722496
        and I don’t think there is otherway to read it: I couldn’t be surprised that Jordan Bateman call on Translink wasting tax$ on now perfectly useless “Mobility Pricing Independent Commission”…and he will be right:
        NDP, with the instrumental complicity of the Greens, killed any prospect of road pricing in the region for the foreseeable future, and as a collateral damage have also put Translink in a very deep financial hole.

      3. “someone has still to explain what “significant portion” of the BCGreen platform, which was not already in teh NDP program will get passed”
        That isn’t the question. It doesn’t matter if it was also in the NDP platform. It matters if it was in the Liberal platform.

      4. I am not sure Greens voters were expecting to see Green MLA behaving as NDP suppletive. If so why they even bother to vote green instead of NDP?
        I personally didn’t vote for that and I will certainly not repeat my Green vote next time:
        Weaver was in a position of a King maker, and he didn’t even try to leverage it to get some compromise with the NDP: and that is the whole point.
        All his protests now are just pathetic and shameful.
        “toll removal” was advocated only by the NDP, and this party get less than 40% of the vote, so he could have certainly bended the policy here…and may be even the NDP could have been happy to get rid of this stupid promise at no political cost to them.
        Alas, the BC greens prove perfectly useless at the parliament…

  11. It would be interesting to see some sort of analysis of the public costs per passenger kilometre of road travel (provincial plus municipal) by private vehicles vs. by public transit within the region.
    If highway infrastructure use by automobiles is to be toll-free, it brings up the question of whether the removal or reduction of ‘tolls’ on transit infrastructure use by non-drivers (currently ranging from $2.85 to $5.60 per journey) should also be considered. Drivers will point out that they pay gasoline taxes, but my guess is that the average amount of gas tax paid per month is far less than the $172 cost of a 3-zone transit pass to travel freely throughout Metro Vancouver. And drivers and non-drivers both contribute to general revenue streams.
    Strictly speaking it appears that the province is at least willing to fund the capital costs of major road infrastructure out of general revenues. Should they do the same for rapid transit lines such as SkyTrain and Surrey LRT?

  12. The first item on the BC NDP Platform during the recent election:
    “John Horgan and the BC NDP will work for you and take real action to make your life more affordable – like reducing or eliminating fees, tolls …”
    Is anyone actually surprised?

    1. If you are going to quote the platform, here it is:
      “Eliminating bridge tolls
      John Horgan’s BC NDP will immediately make road pricing more fair by eliminating tolls on the Port Mann and the Golden Ears bridges.”
      https://www.bcndp.ca/affordability
      See the difference?

      1. Absolutely. Nobody should be surprised that the NDP has cancelled the tolls.
        Only the Liberals were going to keep tolling.
        Maybe the NDP will Axe the Gas Tax too, as they said they would.

      2. The Liberals were going to cap tolls, until they announced they would eliminate them.
        The Greens were the only ones keeping tolls, but they did say they would rationalize the tolls and move to mobility pricing over time.

      3. “Maybe the NDP will Axe the Gas Tax too, as they said they would.”
        In 2009.
        That does t seem very Honest, Ed.

  13. I’m OK with this. Should improve traffic in New West as people will not longer take the Patullo to save 3$

    1. Dream on. It will make commuting cheaper and thus, less car pools and more trips overall.
      Only tolls ON ALL BRIDGES, higher (say double or triple) in rush hour, will actually reduce overall demand and spread traffic out more. It is just plain common sense.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *