The Golden Ears Bridge, Greater Vancouver’s first, modern toll bridge has not reached traffic or revenue projections in its first year of service. Traffic is 25% below 2004 projections (22,300 vs. 29,400 vehicles / day) and revenue is down about 17 % ($26.5 million vs. $32.2 million / year). TransLink partially compensates for the lower revenue by adding the $5.2 million it budgeted to operate the Albion ferries that the bridge replaced. TransLink is developing plans to improve the bridge’s financial situation but will not proceed until a detailed business plan is available. Toll reductions and improved marketing to non-commuters such as trucking firms may be considered.
The BC Trucking Association states that the cost of transponders and tolls may be driving truckers to the Port Mann or other Fraser crossings. Transponders cost $10.00 (refundable) to lease and $1.00 / month for maintenance, which hardly seems onerous. Coincidentally, the BCTA’s offices are conveniently located near the south approaches of the bridge.
It is worth noting that TransLink provided one month of free rides when the toll bridge opened; when the Canada Line rapid transit line opened, transit riders got a break for less than one day.