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Translink Buzzer Blog

Category: Roads & Bridges

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!

More about the Sapperton/United Boulevard workshops: a Q&A with Gary Andrishak, workshop facilitator

We’ve got two Sapperton community/United Boulevard workshops coming up soon, so to give us a bit of background, I talked to Gary Andrishak, who works with IBI Group and will be facilitating these workshops.

Gary and IBI Group have been hired to facilitate these workshops to give some independence to the proceedings, aiming to ensure residents and businesses in New Westminster and Coquitlam are heard in the process of coming up with solutions.

In this interview, Gary talks a bit about his background, the goals for the workshops, and what people can expect when they attend. Read on for the full Q&A!

Read more »

Come to our Sapperton/United Boulevard Extension hands-on workshops, Sat Mar 12 & Wed Mar 16, 2011

For those in the New Westminster area (or those just interested in it!), we’re holding a set of four Sapperton community/United Boulevard Extension hands-on workshops in March and April. (Plus one reporting-out meeting in May!)

They’re planned to be quite different from earlier discussions on the United Boulevard area, which centred around presenting options for a roadway extension (try this post for more info on the earlier open houses).

Instead, these workshops are going to be a broad consultation with the community, asking you to identify the transportation issues and help come up with solutions to fit your neighbourhood.

The first two are coming up on Saturday, March 12 and Wednesday, March 16, 2011, and here are the details:

Share your transportation concerns
Saturday, March 12, 2011
9:30 a.m. to noon
Sapperton Pensioners Hall
318 Keary Street, New Westminster
Google map

Share your ideas
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Sapperton Pensioners Hall
318 Keary Street, New Westminster
Google map

United Boulevard Extension is a necessary part of a safe, reliable, connected and consistent North Fraser Perimeter Road for goods movement. The UBE needs to be sensitive to local values and local community concerns. It also needs to be part of an integrated corridor-level vision.

We are committed to listening to you and getting your input to help shape the solutions for the extension and your neighbourhood. Share your concerns and ideas at these two hands-on workshops, and watch for more opportunities to get involved!

Btw: if you join us at TransLink’s Facebook page, we’ve added the workshops as upcoming events that you can put in your calendar.

You can also check out our Sapperton/United Boulevard Extension page for more info on the project, as well as the public summary from the earlier set of open houses in 2010.

And stay tuned: tomorrow, I’ll have an interview with Gary Andrishak, who is facilitating the workshops, which goes into a LOT more detail on the workshops’ approach and what to expect! Edit: Here’s the interview with Gary!

Please do pass this note along to anyone who might be interested!

Reminder: United Boulevard open house, Tue Dec 7, 2010

Just a reminder that a third United Boulevard open house has been scheduled for Tuesday, December 7, 2010, in response to a great deal of interest in this project.

The details:

December 7, 2010
6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Justice Institute of British Columbia
715 McBride Boulevard
New Westminster
*Presentation in the theatre begins at 6:45 p.m. followed by a discussion.

On the blog, check out this United Boulevard Buzzer post for some of the discussion happening so far—you’ll find links there to other conversations happening online as well.

This project is also part of our proposed 2011 supplement plan.

And as always, general information, resources, and upcoming events related to this project can be found at the United Boulevard Extension public consultation page.

United Boulevard Extension: an interview with Sany Zein, TransLink Director of Roads

A map of the United Boulevard Extension with the issue areas delineated. This is pulled from the boards put up at the United Boulevard consultation sessions. Click for a MUCH larger version!

Please note: in response to the huge response on this project, another consultation session has now been scheduled for New Westminster, on Tuesday, December 7, 2010, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Justice Institute of British Columbia! Find out more at the United Boulevard page.

Sany Zein, TransLink's Director of Roads!

As you may know, we’re currently consulting on the United Boulevard Extension, a project to improve multimodal travel and regional goods movement in the Coquitlam and New Westminster areas.

The project, which is part of our 2011 supplemental plans, has raised a ton of discussion about implementation, its value, and what will happen next—for example, see these posts at Tenth to the Fraser and the New West Environmental Partners.

So I thought I’d also do an interview with Sany Zein, TransLink’s Director of Roads, to find out a bit more about the project and hopefully add to the discussion that is already out there.

Read more »

Tiny inflation adjustment for Golden Ears Bridge tolls, Thu July 15

The Golden Ears Bridge!

A heads up — the tolls on the Golden Ears Bridge will see a planned inflation-rate adjustment next week, on Thursday, July 15!

The increases range from zero to 15 cents, and I’ve listed the specific details below.

Read more »

Golden Ears Bridge tolling registration no longer needs pre-authorized payment info

The Golden Ears Bridge!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

So, after monitoring the Golden Ears Bridge for the past five months, we’ve just made a change to the tolling rules to help people register for discount pricing.

Before, you had to give us your credit card info while you were registering for a Golden Ears Bridge account. But now, you can register for an account without handing over your credit card info.

So now, you can choose how to pay after you receive your bill, rather than having it automatically charged to your account.

We’re hoping this change will help people register for a tolling account. As I described in a past Quickpass post, we’re finding few people are registering, even though there’s a discount. (Currently 266,000 out of 300,000 accounts in the system are unregistered and paying the highest toll fee possible!)

Registration also helps us cut down on paper statements, because people registered with the system can opt for e-bills.

Please do remember, you can pick one of three ways to register your vehicle for the Quickpass tolling system:

  1. Lease a Quickpass transponder and save 30% off the standard toll rate. (Transponders are $1 a month plus a $10 refundable deposit.)
  2. Register as a Quickpass video customer and save 15% off the standard toll rate. (You don’t carry a transponder and your license plate is read by cameras.)
  3. Pay as you go and pay the standard toll rate.

You can register in many ways: at www.quickpasstolling.ca, call 604-460-5050 or at 1-877-299-0599 (toll free), or visit the Quickpass customer service centre in Pitt Meadows (12167 Harris Road) or Langley (12-8948 202nd Street).

And here’s the official press release and the Quickpass website for more info, too.

Behind the scenes at QuickPass, the Golden Ears Bridge tolling centre

The QuickPass offices at 12167 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows.

The QuickPass offices at 12167 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows.

Last week, I joined the media for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Quickpass offices in Pitt Meadows. (Quickpass is the name of the electronic tolling system on the Golden Ears Bridge.)

Rosa Rountree, the CEO and general manager of Quickpass, took us around, and we got to see just how the system works in practice. Read on to see what we learned!

Read more »

Golden Ears Bridge tolling starts today!

The majestic Golden Ears Bridge!

The majestic Golden Ears Bridge!

As I reminded you on Monday, Golden Ears Bridge tolling starts today, July 16!

If you’ve got a transponder, please make sure it’s in your car or you won’t get the lowest rate for crossing the bridge. Here’s the transponder installation guide if you’d like to know about optimum placement.

Also, if you ordered a Quickpass transponder by the end of the day on July 15, but you have not yet received it, your account will nonetheless be charged the lowest rate until the end of day on Monday July 20.

If you’re still looking to register your vehicle for the electronic tolling system, visit quickpasstolling.ca for all the info.

And if you’d like to know more, here’s a past blog post with more on the electronic tolling system.

(P.S. Quickpass customer account information won’t be available online and over the interactive voice system until the week of July 20. It’s very soon!)

Tolling on the Golden Ears Bridge starts Thu July 16

The Golden Ears Bridge, crowded with people during its opening day celebration. (I wonder if everyone has a transponder?)

The Golden Ears Bridge, crowded with people during its opening day celebration. (I wonder if everyone has a transponder?)

Look out, drivers: after a month of free crossings, electronic tolling on TransLink’s Golden Ears Bridge starts Thursday, July 16.

And just a heads up: to prepare for the launch, the bridge’s outside lanes in both directions will close at 8 p.m. this week, reopening for the morning rush the next day. This is to allow final preparations of the cameras used in the Quickpass tolling system, and will be completed before July 16.

Remember, you can register your vehicle for a lower toll rate. There’s three ways to access the registration process:

  • online at www.quickpasstolling.ca*
  • call 604-460-5050, or call toll-free at 1-877-299-0599*
  • or visit the Quickpass customer service centre in Pitt Meadows (12167 Harris Road) or Langley (12-8948 202nd Street).

*If you call or register online for a transponder, it will be mailed to you.

You can also pick one of three ways to register your vehicle for the Quickpass tolling system:

  1. Lease a Quickpass transponder and save 30% off the standard toll rate. (Transponders are $1 a month plus a $10 refundable deposit.)
  2. Register as a Quickpass video customer and save 15% off the standard toll rate. (You won’t carry a transponder this way.)
  3. Pay as you go and pay the standard toll rate.

So far, over 12,000 people have leased a transponder! And for those who have leased but not yet received their transponders, they will be delivered prior to July 16. Make sure to install your transponder before July 16 to ensure you receive the lowest toll rate.

For more on the tolling system, check the Quickpass registration site, or have a read through a Quickpass article I wrote in Oct. 2008.

Golden Ears Bridge + Google Maps

The Golden Ears Bridge!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

A few people have asked why the Golden Ears Bridge isn’t on Google Maps yet, so I thought I’d share what our web staff have said:

For Google, it is up to TeleAtlas as they provide the basemap. A request has been made but they will not say when it will be updated. It is the same for the other major supplier of basemaps, Navteq. Users are encouraged to visit teleatlas.com and navteq.com to report changes to encourage them update the basemap sooner rather than later.

So, just let TeleAtlas and Navteq know that you’d like to see the Golden Ears Bridge on there!

Photos of the Golden Ears Bridge celebration this weekend

The crowded bridge deck at the Golden Ears Bridge opening celebration! Photo by CJ Stebbing.

The crowded bridge deck at the Golden Ears Bridge opening celebration! Photo by CJ Stebbing.

In honour of the Golden Ears Bridge opening this morning, I thought I’d share some photos of the celebration this past weekend.

And if you have photos you’d like to share of the Golden Ears — from the celebration, this morning’s commute, or otherwise — feel free to email me or leave a comment in this post.

Golden Ears Bridge traffic tips for the opening week

The Golden Ears Bridge opens Tuesday, June 16!

The Golden Ears Bridge opens Tuesday, June 16!

We’ve just sent out this press release and I wanted to make sure you all saw it!

TransLink’s new Golden Ears Bridge is expected to open sometime in the early hours of tomorrow morning when the barriers come down on all of the entrances and exits. By the morning rush hour period, the bridge will be handling regular commuter traffic between Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows and Langley/Surrey for the first time.

Motorists are advised to expect traffic delays for the first few days as commuters get accustomed to the new entrances and exits and as sightseers take advantage of the 30 day toll-free period to make their first trips over the Golden Ears. TransLink has arranged for additional police traffic management to assist motorists as they sort out their new travel patterns. Traffic engineers will be monitoring the bridge and the road system to see if any adjustments to signals or wayfinding are needed.

Based on the overwhelming public interest on Sunday at the bridge completion celebration, TransLink is asking motorists who don’t necessarily have to travel in peak commuting times to shift their trial runs if possible. All drivers headed to the bridge are advised to listen to radio traffic reports for updated information.

Motorists wanting to be among the first across the bridge are advised that it is not expected to open right at midnight tonight.

In the weeks to come, those who expect to use the Golden Ears on a regular basis should either register their vehicles or order a transponder to qualify for a lower toll charge. TransLink recommends ordering transponders on-line or by phone rather than going to the QuickPass offices. With the next 30 days toll-free, there will be lots of the transponders to arrive in the mail. Links and phone numbers are available at www.translink.ca.

Operations staff at the Golden Ears Bridge would also like to advise motorists that there is still some completion work underway that could result in some short term lane closures over the coming weeks.

Maps and info for the Golden Ears Bridge celebration

A map for the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on Sunday, June 14, showing park-and-ride and other locations on the south side of the bridge. Click for a larger version.

A map for the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on Sunday, June 14, showing park-and-ride and other locations on the south side of the bridge. Click for a larger version.

If you’re going to the Golden Ears Bridge celebration, we’ve now created two maps describing the park-and-ride, bike valet, and pedestrian access locations on both sides of the bridge. (There’s no vehicle access to the bridge during the celebration.)

You can download both maps in PDF format here:

And you can get the full schedule of events in PDF format here:

You may have already seen these maps and the schedule in local papers, but it’s definitely info worth repeating.

As well, I’ve also put up all the details of the celebration in this blog post.

More details about the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on June 14!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

The Golden Ears Bridge!

Here’s a few more details about the Golden Ears Bridge celebration on Sunday, June 14—two days before the bridge officially opens on June 16.

The celebration runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Things kick off at 11 a.m. with performances including Kutapira, the Langley Ukulele Ensemble and First Nations blues performer Murray Porter.

The Official Ribbon Cutting ceremony starts at 1 pm, followed by the music of Rick Tippe, Maple Ridge country recording artist and winner of 30 country music awards, The Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration, and Delhi 2 Dublin.

At 2 pm, you’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play hopscotch, hula hoop, breakdance and take part in other activities on the bridge deck. The most enthusiastic participants will be awarded a limited edition “I Made History on the Golden Ears Bridge” button.

Six passport stamping stations will be set up along the bridge deck and guests who collect all six stamps can enter a prize draw.

Also, a fun run across the bridge deck begins at 8:30 am on the north side of the river. Langley’s George Tabert, the winner of the bridge naming contest held in 2004, will lead runners across the bridge on the bicycle he was awarded as a prize for naming the bridge. The run is sponsored by Running Room and pre-registration is required at www.runningroom.com.

How to get to the celebration

A map of the connections to the Golden Ears Bridge, once the bridge is open. Click for a larger version.

A map of the connections to the Golden Ears Bridge, once the bridge is open. Click for a larger version.

There will be no vehicle access to the bridge or new road network on June 14.

Three-hour free parking will be available at the Langley Events Centre, Colossus Langley, Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, Westcoast Express Pitt Meadows Station and Westcoast Express Maple Meadows Station. Coast Mountain Bus Company buses will shuttle guests to drop-off spots at each end of the bridge, about 800 metres from the event. Wheelchair access to the bridge deck is provided through these parking lots. Shuttles from the parking lots are free.

Those biking to the celebration on the north side of the river can proceed southbound on Maple Meadows Way to Stewart Crescent and then take the new paved pedestrian and cyclist path to the new 113B Avenue roundabout.

Cyclists can check their bikes at the free bike valet operated by Better Environmentally Sound Transportation Association (BEST). Bike valet locations are near 201st Street and 100A Avenue in Langley and near the north side bridge approach near 113B Avenue.

Pedestrians can access the bridge deck near the bike valets on both ends of the bridge.

The celebration will take place outdoors on the one-kilometre bridge deck, so guests should wear comfortable walking shoes, bring bottled water and dress for the weather. For safety reasons, bikes, rollerblades, skateboards and pets will not be permitted on the bridge deck.

As well, the celebration is looking for volunteers, if you’d like to help us make history.

We’re all really proud to launch this bridge and hope you can join us!

And for more info on the Golden Ears Bridge, check out TransLink’s Golden Ears Bridge website and the Golden Ears Bridge construction website.