While Translink tightens belt, Lekstrom proposes lower Port Mann tolls

Translink planners are hard at work this summer preparing a new funding supplement that responds to Transit Commissioner Martin Crilly’s rejection of a proposed fare increase.

Translink will get part of the fare increase, but is expected to find “efficiencies” to make up the millions it hoped to raise. Meanwhile, revenue from fuel taxes is falling, tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge are well below forecast and Metro mayors want to keep a proposed property tax increase that was supposed to make up for the now-cancelled vehicle levy to pay for Evergreen.

It all adds up to a funding crunch for Translink, which has been chastised for waste by Crilly and Transport Minister Blair Lekstrom.

But the same Blair Lekstrom is already proposing to cut back tolls on the Port Mann Bridge even before the massive, multi-billion project is open. Because the bridge will open at eight lanes — not the full ten — Lekstrom thinks the toll should drop below $3. He would simply extend the payment period on bridge debt, now expected to take 40 years to retire.

(Of course, the current bridge has been providing decent service at five lanes, but that’s another story.  It’s being torn down.)

Not only that, Lekstrom believes rapid bus will be in place on the Port Mann on opening day, a new service as Translink makes cuts elsewhere. By an amazing coincidence, the toll cut, the new bus and the new bridge will be coming online just before the provincial election.