More motorists pay to cross Golden Ears Bridge

Traffic across toll span up 12 per cent in first quarter

Traffic on the tolled Golden Ears Bridge.

About 12 per cent more vehicles used the tolled Golden Ears Bridge in the first quarter of 2012, according to TransLink.

The extra 260,000 crossings translates into at least $750,000 more raised through bridge tolls than in the same three-month period of 2011.

TransLink has struggled to raise awareness of the Golden Ears and persuade drivers to pay to cross the bridge, which opened in 2009 but has not attracted as much traffic as originally forecast.

Nearly 9.8 million vehicles crossed the toll bridge in 2011 – up 12.6 per cent from about 8.7 million in 2010 – but well short of TransLink’s budget target of 10.5 million. The tolls generated $33.7 million in 2011.

TransLink expects the Golden Ears numbers to improve in 2013, after the new Port Mann Bridge opens with tolls and ceases to be a free crossing.

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said the first quarter numbers were helped in part because of fewer snowy days prompting motorists to stay off the roads and drivers choosing the Golden Ears to avoid construction elsewhere.

“More and more motorists are discovering the value of the Golden Ears Bridge as a much-needed direct link across the Fraser River,” he added.