Transportation Investment Corp., the crown corporation responsible for maintaining and operating the new Port Mann Bridge, is contemplating a loyalty rewards program to get more drivers using the tolled crossing.
The rewards for using the bridge numerous times over the span of the monthly billing period could include rebates on toll bills, free crossings or even a free gas card, according to the Vancouver Sun.
At this time, the rewards system is only being considered; drivers are being surveyed on whether they would use the bridge more often if TReO is tied with usage rewards.
Traffic on the bridge is lower than forecasts, resulting in consecutive budget deficits due to lower toll revenues that support both the annual maintenance costs as well as the $3.3-billion cost to construct the bridge and associated highway infrastructure. Currently, the total debt for the bridge has reached $3.6-billion and it has an annual budgetary deficit of about $80-million per year.
The traffic figures on the bridge were initially strong during the first few months after opening, but the numbers have gradually dropped with the implementation of higher tolls. The Pattullo Bridge has experienced the brunt of the diverted traffic of drivers avoiding the Port Mann Bridge tolls, although the crown corporation asserts using the new tolled crossing results in time savings of about one hour per day based on a round trip.
In January 2013, the bridge clocked 95,200 vehicle crossings, but it dropped to 92,200 for the same period the following year. Traffic only began to stabilize and grow towards the end of 2014, and in January 2015 the bridge recorded 96,900 crossings.
The Port Mann Bridge’s current toll rates are: $3.00 for small cars, SUVs and pick-up trucks; $1.50 for motorcycles; $6.00 for cars with trailers and motorhomes; and and $9.00 for large commercial vehicles. There is an additional $2.30 license plate processing fee for unregistered customers after a period of seven days to cover the costs of tracking the billing addresses linked to license plates.
There area also toll discounts, including monthly passes, a 25 per cent discount for HOV vehicles during peak periods, and a 50 per cent discount for large commercial vehicles from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Feature Image: Government of B.C.