Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Pattullo Bridge Average Traffic Volume up 14% Weekdays, 16% Weekends

Much has been said about the traffic diversion from the Port Mann Bridge over to the Pattullo Bridge. Unfortunately, no one has looked at the overall traffic pattern changes that have occurred since the new, tolled Port Mann Bridge went into service.

TransLink has been posting weekly traffic counts on the Pattullo Bridge. The information is hard to find. The information is also very detailed which doesn't lend itself to getting a high-level overview of the changes that are occurring.

As I posted about last week, average daily weekday volume over the Port Mann Bridge is at levels not seen since the mid-1990s. The same cannot be said about the Pattullo Bridge.

Since the province opened the South Fraser Perimeter Road and started promoting the Pattullo Bridge as a “free alternative” to the Port Mann, traffic volumes have skyrocketed.

Pattullo Bridge Average Traffic Volume. Source: TransLink. Click graph to enlarge.

The date ranges I focused on in the graph are important. The first range is the traffic volume over the Pattullo while the Port Mann was still free. The second range is the traffic volume over the Pattullo after the province introduced a $1.50 toll on the Port Mann. The third and fourth ranges show the effect of traffic volume on the Pattullo as a result of the province raising the toll on the Port Mann to $3.00.

It appears that both changing the direct cost of using the Port Mann from free to $1.50, and from $1.50 to $3.00, resulted in a 3% increase in traffic over the Pattullo each time.

It is no surprise that people in New Westminster have been complaining about the increase in traffic and its negative effects. Would you want over 9,000 more vehicles coming down the street in your neighbourhood?

Speaking about the Pattullo Bridge, TransLink, Coquitlam, New Westminster, and Surrey have restarted the public consultation process for the replacement of the Pattullo. More information is on the Pattullo Bridge Review website. Surrey is still pushing for a bigger bridge while New Westminster does not want to see even more traffic being rammed through its community.

Looking at the shift in traffic patterns, it should be clear that we need a comprehensive road pricing system in our region. Hopefully the province will wake up to this fact. In the meantime, TransLink should consider tolling the Pattullo Bridge today to start raising fund for its eventual replacement, and to manage the traffic demand which the province has dumped onto our regional transportation network.

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