Regional tolls would be unfair
Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ vision for broader tolls is, if we were to be realistically speaking, unfair in itself.
Mayor Watts makes a good point about needing to avoid penalizing a certain region by making them pay the most tolls to cross a certain improved bridge. However, tolling bridges across the region is hardly fair and equitable.
Tolls re-finance the capital costs of a road expenditure project such as a road or a bridge; they are not a revenue source for anything else. If they were a revenue source for anything else, the toll booths on the Coquihalla Highway would still be standing.
If we were to toll, say, the Second Narrows Bridge to pay for new bridges that just so happen to be links from Surrey and area but have regional importance, that would be unfair for those in the region.
Because I’m willing to bet that a large amount of the traffic crossing the Second Narrows Bridge also does not cross other bridges in Surrey. People in Vancouver and elsewhere would be paying for a bridge that they would not use often and does not significantly benefit them in any way. That would be unfair.
I would rather see more creative ways of raising money to recoup the capital costs of the new bridges that may tower over Surrey over the next few years.
For example: Mayor Watts should be advocating for decreased tolls for local vehicles entirely and increased tolls for commercial vehicles and goods movement.
If the need to accommodate increased regional goods movement – such as through the South Fraser Perimeter Road (in the case of the Pattullo Bridge) – is one of the big reasons we need to construct new bridges, then those parties responsible for goods movement should be paying more to re-finance the capital costs of the new bridges than the citizens of the communities nearby.
Daryl Dela Cruz