Artist rendering of the planned Rapid Bus service over the new Port Mann Bridge

New Port Mann Bridge to open Dec. 3: Union

Preparations underway for launch of Rapid Bus transit service on Highway 1 corridor

The new Port Mann Bridge may officially open with eight lanes on Dec. 3, although transportation ministry officials won’t confirm the date circulated by the bus drivers’ union.

Canadian Auto Workers local 111 president Don MacLeod said the union was notified drivers will be required to run the new Highway 1 Rapid Bus service, which is promised to be in place on opening day of the new bridge.

“My understanding is the first Monday in December,” he said.

A ministry spokesman said the bridge official opening date will be announced in the coming weeks, giving drivers enough notice of the traffic pattern change and the date tolling will start.

There have been no difficulties with construction and work remains on schedule for an eight-lane opening sometime in December as planned, the spokesman said.

The remaining two of 10 lanes would open about a year later because of subsequent work to dismantle the old bridge and its approaches.

The bridge will be free for the first week it’s open before half-price tolls of $1.50 per standard vehicle kick in.

The discount from regular $3 tolls ends March 1 for drivers who don’t register with the Treo electronic tolling system by then.

Those who do register lock in the discount for one year and those who sign up before December also get a credit for 20 free crossings.

The new bridge is to restore transit service to the corridor, which hasn’t seen a Coast Mountain bus in decades due to congestion.

TransLink kept the planned Port Mann bus service in the latest version of its 2013 plan in September, even though mayors have vowed to rescind a $30-million property tax hike and press the province to replace it with a different source.

“It is TransLink’s intention to have this service in place for when the bridge opens, but we do not have an opening date yet,” spokesperson Debbie Parhar said. “We are getting prepared but there have been no assignments or driver sign up yet.”

The planned Rapid Bus service will be scaled back from what was originally envisioned due to declining TransLink revenue.

The buses were to run over the new bridge every 10 minutes all day – now they’ll only run every 10 minutes in the morning and afternoon peaks and be cut to every 30 minutes at off-peak times.

And it will only go from Langley to Braid Station, not to Lougheed Station as previously planned.