Tolls are now gone from Golden Ears Bridge. (THE NEWS/files)

Opposition to road pricing on Maple Ridge council

Maple Ridge council told, B-Line running by 2019

Maple Ridge is still worried about a plan to charge people for the distance they travel, if TransLink implements a new per-kilometre, road-pricing system.

“Unless they change this so we get a preferential rate in Maple Ridge, we’re going to have trouble buying into this,” said Coun. Craig Speirs.

Speirs said more than 60 per cent of Maple Ridge’s population commutes, often long distances. If such a system was adopted, it would see motorists here paying more than residents closer to Vancouver who have shorter trips.

“It doesn’t seem fair at this point.”

Maple Ridge council wants to drag the Mobility Pricing Independent Commission into its chambers so that agency knows what local folks think about road tolling. The commission is currently studying ways to charge road tolling and will provide a report to TransLink next spring.

Most people in Metro Vancouver support or are neutral towards introducing mobility pricing, a report for the region’s mayors has found.

“If that goes ahead, Maple Ridge and Langley will be the worst hit,” said Coun. Gordy Robson.

The commission is currently seeking input from the public on what kind of tolling or pricing system should be implemented to pay for transit services.

Speirs said one option would be to just toll every major bridge in Metro Vancouver, and arrange it so that motorists just pay a bridge toll, once a day. So if they pay a toll to cross the Golden Ears Bridge, they no longer have to pay to cross the Port Mann Bridge that same day.

“When you cross a bridge, any bridge, you pay a toll, one toll – and then you’re good for the whole day. It would be easy to administer and it would manage demand better,” Speirs said.

He said it would still affect people, but not as much as the tolls removed Sept. 1 by the new provincial government from the Golden Ears and Port Mann that charged people each time they used the bridge.

Maple Ridge in 2015, led all Metro Vancouver cities in rejecting a proposed half-a-per-cent sales tax increase to fund transit.

TransLink representatives appeared at council’s Nov. 22 meeting to provide an update about the transit service here. The new B-Line bus is still on track to start running from downtown Maple Ridge to Coquitlam Central SkyTrain station by the fall of 2019.

The route and stops are currently being worked out, said Sarah Ross with TransLink.

The B-Line is supposed to operate 18 hours a day on 15-minute frequency. Council asked about setting up a park and ride service at Haney Place bus loop.

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