VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) As TransLink sets aside $5 million for improvements to the tolling system on the Golden Ears Bridge, a local transit blogger is questioning whether or not the tolls are bringing in enough money.
The transit authority will be finishing an assessment of the technology assets at the six year old span this year. It includes an inspection of the video cameras, equipment that detects vehicle sizes, computer servers, and equipment used in electronic toll collection. TransLink says the equipment typically has a service life of five years. Most of the technology will have been in use for close to sevel by the time it is replaced.
Critics like the NDP have questioned the move, but transit blogger Nathan Pachal isnt surprised. His site, The South Fraser Blog, focuses on transportation, urban planning, and the environment. He says most IT systems need an upgrade every few years as technology improves.
Hes giving TransLink credit for integrating two different systems so theres standard billing for drivers who take the new Port Mann or the Golden Ears. He believes the new Massey Tunnel project will also use the new TReO system. But he is questioning how TransLink accounts for the forecasted revenue from tolls.
Whether its the Port Mann, or the Golden Ears, or now the Massey Tunnel replacement, is that consultant reports are generally very optimistic about the revenue they could generate. TransLink was expecting that they would be getting what I think was somewhere around $50 million this year, but if you look at what the original consultant report was, they should be getting something closer to $70 million a year in revenue. If you look at TransLinks case, theyre subsidizing the Golden Ears Bridge off the backs of transit users and if you look at the Port Mann, which was supposed to be paid for by tolls, its again being subsidized by taxpayers throughout the province.
It costs $3.10 for TREO users to cross the Golden Ears or $4.35 for drivers without TReO.
TransLink says the bridge’s surveillance system generated an $43.5 million in tolls in 2015.