News Views: No free ride

The same day the B.C. Liberals announced that, if re-elected, they would cap tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges at $500 a year, the NDP claimed it would eliminate them.

No doubt that perked the ears of local drivers.

Maybe it even helped them decide who to vote for in the May 9 provincial election.

But more so, isn’t capping or eliminating tolls just an admission that they unfairly burden the frequent users of those specific bridges, while other crossings in the province are free of such charges?

The NDP is suggesting that some drivers take other routes, creating congestion, just to avoid paying tolls. No doubt traffic on the Golden Ears Bridge is light.

The NDP would replace revenue from tolls to pay for the cost of building and maintaining the Golden Ears and Port Mann bridges mainly by draining $500 million from what leader John Horgan called the B.C. Liberals’ “LNG fantasy fund” over three years. But then what? As we know, there’s no such thing as a free ride.

The Liberals peg the annual revenues alone from those two bridges at more than $200 million.

It would make sense to implement a payment method in which all taxpayers in the province contribute evenly to the cost and maintenance of our our major road networks.

However that would look should be studied. Taxpayers should be heard from.

Those in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows pay taxes to TransLink through property bills, the same as residents in the other 19 Metro Vancouver communities, even though transit services here are less.

According to TransLink, the reason for using property tax as one of the ways to pay for the regional transportation system is that it provides benefits to all residents – even those who don’t use transit or even drive. Just like school taxes.

So why only now are there admissions that the current user-pay tolling system does more harm than good? We know they answer.

– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News