Translink Buzzer Blog

Reflecting on the Golden Ears Bridge

The Golden Ears Bridge has been open for nearly two and a half years now. The bridge is the first electronic toll bridge in Western Canada. It was built to connect the communities of Surrey and Langley to Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, reduce the time it normally takes for people to commute from these communities, and therefore reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused by unnecessary idling and longer-than-necessary trip lengths.

This video shows a real family comparing the difference in commuting times between taking the Golden Ears Bridge and Port Mann Bridge. Please keep in mind that the tolls have increased slightly of late. Today, the toll for this trip would be $2.90 instead of $2.80. Here’s a link to the current toll rates.

Drivers have been slowly changing their routes between these communities to include the Golden Ears Bridge since it opened in June 2009.

Here are some useful figures:

  • The bridge is currently serving 30,000 trips each weekday and about 10 million trips annually.
  • The number of 2011 trips is currently 13 percent higher than the 2010 trips for the equivalent time period.
  • August and September 2011 recorded the two highest number of monthly trips to date in the history of the bridge.  In August, there were more than 916,000 bridge trips , and in September, there were more than 875,000 bridge trips.

The increase in the number of people using the bridge is encouraging. While I know from the Buzzer blog reader survey we did in May that most readers commute to work using transit, we’d still like to hear your thoughts about the Bridge.

Have you used the Bridge since it opened? Did it help make your trip more convenient? Was the toll that you paid good value for the reduced trip length and reduced emissions? Are you planning to use the Bridge more frequently in the future?  Any of your thoughts about the Golden Ears Bridge are welcome!


8 Comments

  • By Chris, November 5, 2011 @ 12:09 am

    Here’s some more useful figures (from Translink’s 1st quarter financial report):
    “Volumes are below the target however, year-to-date traffic is 15 per cent more than the same time last year.

    Using the average toll rate experienced in March, and applying the year-to-date traffic increase over last year, revenues are forecast to be below budget by $2.4 million.”

    That’s quite a hit for Translink. Has that forecast changed?

    Given global trends toward lessening car use (see ‘peak car’ or these blog posts by the Sighline Institute – http://daily.sightline.org/blog_series/dude-where-are-my-cars/), has Translink revisited its long term forecasts for the Golden Ears Bridge?

    Is it true that the same company that created the forecast for the Golden Ears Bridge also created the forecast for the Port Mann Bridge (SDG)?

  • By NateDogg, November 7, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    Creating new high-capacity vehicle infrastructure does not reduces greenhouse gas emissions. That would be true if the new bridge only served existing auto customers, as reduced trip length would then amount to a net savings. In reality, this new road capacity will induce demand for more auto trips overall: the shorter trip time and the newly freed-up space on other roads will encourage people to drive and and discourage them from choosing other modes of transportation. The overall effect of this bridge will be the encouragement of car-dependent land use and thus more people driving, which of course will mean more greenhouse gas emissions, not less.

    I am not trying to deny that the new bridge brings any benefits – clearly it does – but it is disingenuous to claim that a reduction in greenhouse gasses is one of them. Debates about what new infrastructure to build and which projects to allocate limited fiscal resources to need to be conducted by honestly debating their pros and cons, not by trickery.

  • By Marvin B, November 7, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

    New bridges are necessary, and I’m glad they are being built. The current situation is dangerous with cars jamming up the highways. Emergency vehicles and buses have a hard time getting through. Freight trucks also can not make their deliveries in a timely fashion to businesses. What’s necessary are commuter trains and/or rapid buses. I’m glad the rapid bus from Langley is part of the Port Mann project. It actually should be from Abbotsford (or at least Aldergrove… future expansion perhaps?).

    What’s needed to get all these suburban commuters onto trains and rapid buses are park and rides. It’s not realistic to expect people who commute so far and from all kinds of smaller rural areas to take a bus to the rapid line. Often there are no buses. If people could drive to the park and ride and then transfer to a rapid bus or train there’d be more usage for sure. The new park and ride near 200th in Langley is a good start. There should be another at 264th and at Mt. Lehman. And run it late too!

    Parking and gasoline are expensive. A commuter bus that actually gets you there fast and is reliable will make people change their habits. Changing habits of vehicle owners will allow the new highways to actually work by allowing freer flow of emergency vehicles and business vehicles. Those who are willing to pay the toll and parking fees will do just that while the rest of us have a stress free ride.

  • By Robert, November 7, 2011 @ 6:01 pm

    Two comments:
    1) If the evening WCE train is just a few minutes late then Langley commuters miss their connection to the 595 bus and face a lengthy wait.
    2) How about an option for a monthly bridge pass for regular commuters?

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, November 8, 2011 @ 5:00 pm

    Hi Chris, NateDogg, Marvin and Robert: I’ve pushed your questions to our engineering department to provide some answers. I should have them soon! Good questions by the way.

  • By David, November 9, 2011 @ 1:34 pm

    I’m saddened that the succes of this bridge is being dtermined by the number of vehicles crossing it. Eg the increase in th enumber of people using the bridge is encouraging. Surely Translink should be promoting greener ways to travel. I’d be more interested to hear of how many carpool over the bridge verse single occupant cars. How many use the bus service or ride a bike. Just ocunting cars and getting excited because the numbers are getting higher makes no sense. That bridge will be full within 5 years and traffic backing up in 10 years (unless tolls are adjusted to encourage other modes). That is just a fact when a new freeway or bridge is open.

  • By Jean, November 9, 2011 @ 9:05 pm

    As a small reminder for those who may not be aware: there are separated bike-pedestrian lanes on both sides of the bridge. It does make a great day bike trip (approx. 110 km. round trip) from downtown Vancouver to Golden Ears Bridge. Different stuff to see along the way.

    There are some interesting aesthetic features that are getting abit forgotten as time marches on and the history of the area.

    An article I wrote for Tourism Vancouver’s blog:
    http://www.insidevancouver.ca/2011/05/26/golden-ears-bridge-a-nod-to-nature-and-aboriginal-heritage/

  • By Kelly, November 22, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    It’s not fair for customers who want to take the Port Mann Bridge, cause it’s a toll free bridge. Many customers like the idea of the Golden Ears Bridge & not to pay the toll at all. Very disapointed that the Albion Ferry was pulled out of service because of the new toll bridge. >:(

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