Richmond Councillors Unite to Warn of Tolls on Knight Street Bridge

For Immediate Release

September 16, 2009

RICHMOND – Motorists and commercial vehicles may soon face tolls on the Knight Street Bridge if TransLink moves forward on a new revenue generating plan known as ‘road pricing’, Richmond City Councillors Ken Johnston, Derek Dang and Bill McNulty said today.

“The idea of tolls being placed on the Knight Street Bridge is of grave concern to me, and it should be for residents and local business as well,” said Councillor Ken Johnston. “Tolls on existing bridges would significantly change traffic patterns across the Lower Mainland and a proper discussion needs to be had with respect to its impact on the public.”

Over the last few months, TransLink has embarked on a self described ‘Be Part of the Plan’ consultative process to receive feedback and ideas from the public on the direction transportation should take going forward. Despite a wide array of suggestions received, one proposal has recently received significant attention, ‘road pricing’.

TransLink Spokesperson Ken Hardie, spoke with CKNW on September 3rd about the increasing possibility of road pricing.

“TransLink cannot be efficient, in the way that it could be, without the complimentary things about the land use decisions and without things like road pricing…” “So something like road pricing is something that makes it more of an incentive to use the transit system once you have it there in place.” – Ken Hardie, CKNW, September 3, 2009, 6:15pm

The Knight Street Bridge connecting Richmond and Vancouver is owned and maintained by TransLink and is a likely target for any future ‘road pricing’ plans.

The prospect of the Knight Street Bridge being tolled comes on the heels of a 20-year plan from YVR released in 2007 that leaves open the possibility of tolls on the Arthur Laing Bridge in the coming years. Richmond First Councillors went on record opposing tolls by YVR on the Arthur Laing Bridge in September 2006.

“It’s possible that a decade from now the only non-tolled crossing for motorists over the North West Arm of the Fraser River will be the Oak Street Bridge,” said Councillor Bill McNulty. “Such tolls will take a ding out of residents’ wallets and put our business community at a competitive disadvantage resulting in lower investment and fewer jobs in our community.”

A recent report from the Regional Transportation Commissioner, an independent regulator of TransLink, states that TransLink needs an extra $130-million per year from existing revenue sources simply to maintain current service levels, and an extra $145-million on top of that to upgrade and expand transit services.

“While we respect the shortfall of revenues that TransLink faces, penalizing drivers with tolls without accompanying road improvements is simply not a solution.” said Councillor Derek Dang. “We feel it’s important for residents and stakeholders to tell TransLink that tolls on existing non-upgraded infrastructure, such as the Knight Street Bridge, are simply not an acceptable option.”

The regional Mayor’s Council on Regional Transportation is expected to meet to draft a new funding plan for TransLink in October. The Council approves plans prepared by TransLink, including the transportation plan, regional funding and borrowing limits.

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