Tolls to cross the Golden Ears bridge are going up, again.
As of July 15, it will cost drivers $2.95 to cross the river.
The tolls, which pay for the building and operation of the bridge, will rise from five to 20 cents, depending on the type of vehicle, to cover the increase in the Consumer Price Index of 1.9 per cent over the past year.
The tolling structure approved before the bridge opened includes an adjustment in toll rates to pay for the costs of construction, operating and maintaining the bridge which increase with inflation, said TransLink’s Drew Snider.
The operational plan calls for an annual increase based on the CPI, he said. When the bridge opened in July 2009, the toll for cars using a transponder was $2.75. It has gone up 20 cents since then.
Registered vehicles without transponders cost $3.50, up from $3.45.
Pay-as-you-go is still going to be the most expensive way to cross the bridge. A small car will cost $4.20 and a large truck will cost just over $10.
More and more people are discovering the cost and time savings by using the bridge, he said.
Usage was up 12.5 per cent in 2011 over 2010, to 9.8 million crossings. That trend is continuing in the first quarter of this year, with over 2.42 million crossings.
“We will see an increase in traffic with more and more businesses setting up shop on the north side of the river,” Snider said.
Off-peak discounts have been implemented in the past to determine if this would generate additional usage and revenue. It did not, said Snider.
“We aren’t looking at decreases in tolls,” said Snider. “The trick of it is, even when you factor in the toll, the rising cost of gas and wear and tear on your car if you go around, it’s still more economical to pay the toll.”
The transponder used for the GEB can be used for the tolling of the new Port Mann bridge as well.
How much it will cost to cross the Port Mann is expected to be announced this week.
The project, which is run by the province, not by TransLink, is expected to open in December.