B.C.’s transportation ministry is ensuring Golden Ears Bridge users have an easy ride over the Port Mann Bridge by combining the tolling technology.
All you need is a decal, available online from TReO (https://www.treo.ca/tolls-and-fees/how-do-i-save-money/) and you can get the discount $1.50 rate for the Port Mann for the first year.
That decal will also work on the Golden Ears Bridge, ensuring motorists will pay the same $2.95 they’re getting with their transponders.
“If you have that decal, you get the best rate,” Debbie Parhar of TransLink said Wednesday.
That decal will also make it easy to get your money – by automatically charging your credit card, or pulling it out of your bank account.
Monthly automatic payments are part of the tolling tactics for the Port Mann Bridge and will include Golden Ears Bridge fares.
That bothers one commuter, who voiced his opinion in a recent letter, saying he didn’t want TransLink to get any access to his bank account.
“Sorry, I simply don’t trust TransLink,” said John Turner.
People also can prepay or set up automatic payment from their bank accounts or from their credit cards for using the Golden Ears Bridge. However, a $2.30 processing fee for payments later than a week and the 50-per-cent discount for the first year mean there are stronger incentives to register for a Port Mann decal.
While Golden Ears struggles to meet financial projections, falling $38 million under projections for the next three years, the Crown corporation, in charge of the Port Mann-Hwy. 1 Improvement Project, trumpets the automatic payments, saying it provides a “lean, efficient tolling system.
“Registered accounts make tolling easy, electronic and efficient for both our customers and for Transportation Investment Corp.,” says CEO Mike Proudfoot.
“TReO decals let us run a streamlined system and keep our operational costs low. That saves drivers money, saves TI Corp money and helps keep toll rates low.”
Parhar, though, noted the decal won’t work on the Golden Ears Bridge until after Dec. 1, so people have to hold on to their transponders until then.
After that date, they can turn in their transponders to the Quickpass office on Harris Road in Pitt Meadows and get their $10 deposit back.
Initially, you may get separate bills for each bridge, but soon that will be combined into one invoice.
“You won’t be double-billed,” Parhar said.
And if you want to bail out of the combined Golden Ears/Port Mann billing, you can do that as well and get your bills separately.
Motorists who don’t like TReO dipping into bank accounts, however, can pay other ways.
They can sign up for payment by phone, in which case they’ll get text message each time they cross the bridge. The bill can be paid via credit card, similar to paying for a parking meter.
Drivers also can pay online using their licence plate or invoice number or at their local bank or at TReO service centres in Coquitlam or Surrey. They can even pay by cheque by mailing in an invoice stub.
However, they won’t get the discount rate, which means after March 1, they’ll pay double, $3 per crossing.
And if they delay payment more than a week, another $2.30 “processing fee” for matching licence plates to photos, will be added to the tab.
“To ensure the system is fair to all users, tolling is designed so that drivers who pay automatically through their registered TReO account do not cover the additional costs associated with finding those who need to be invoiced,” TReO says.
“Registering for a TReO account ensures that Port Mann Bridge users secure the low introductory toll rate for the first year of tolling.”
Nearly 30,000 people registered to use the new tolled Port Mann Bridge in just the first two days of sign-ups, surprising project officials.
The early surge already puts the electronic tolling system 10 per cent of the way to its target of 300,000 registered users by the end of February.
The new Port Mann officially opens sometime in December, with a free week before tolling begins.