Opinion Column

Fluctuating bridge tolls might spur more use

Daniel Fontaine

By Daniel Fontaine, Dialogue with a Difference

Tens of thousands of people  at the opening ceremonies of the new Golden Ears Bridge in Maple Ridge, BC. June 14, 2009. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Tens of thousands of people at the opening ceremonies of the new Golden Ears Bridge in Maple Ridge, BC. June 14, 2009. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Have you ever wondered why someone driving across the Port Mann or Golden Ears bridges pays the same toll at 2 a.m. as they do at rush hour? One would think that like any other consumer product, the price would fluctuate depending on demand. But in the case of local bridge tolls, it doesn’t.

Dismal data released recently by TransLink regarding the lack of use of the Golden Ears might have the transportation authority rethinking its reluctance to institute peak-period pricing.

The high cost of its tolls, which don’t fluctuate depending on the time of day, may be one reason why fewer people are using the bridge than originally forecast. This in turn translates into a significantly higher subsidy.

TransLink might actually improve its bottom line if it was to simply lower tolls during off-peak hours and increase them during higher periods of use. It may be a policy worth considering for a bridge clearly over some troubled water.

Polling bleak for opposition

Justason Market Intelligence released a poll last week indicating that despite all the howls of protest at city hall, Vision Vancouver remains the top dog. Even though Vision’s support declined significantly by seven points to 40% since the last poll was taken a year ago, the party remains far ahead of its opposition rivals.

Non-Partisan Association support appears to have flat-lined at 22%, a drop of 10 points since a similar JMI poll was conducted in the summer of 2011. Meanwhile, COPE increased its support to 16%, a five-point gain since the last civic election. The Greens are sitting at 18% support. Results were based on an online poll of 403 decided Vancouver voters with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9%.

No matter how you cut it, Vision would still win a significant majority. Thankfully for Vancouver’s opposition parties, they still have a year to make up some ground.

Densification protest

A recent event found people protesting Mayor Gregor Robertson’s densification plans for a number of Vancouver neighbourhoods. Although it may not have been historic in size, the gathering does foreshadow what the governing party will face as it asks voters for a third straight majority government.

The unfortunate problem for voters wanting change at city hall is they are spread across the city and lack a single issue to rally the troops. Oh yeah, there are also three opposition parties vying for their support.

Daniel Fontaine is a local political commentator. Follow him on Twitter @Fontaine_D.





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