Pattullo rush hour traffic is up

Many residents said they saw an immediate increase in traffic in New West when tolls on the Port Mann doubled last month. - NewsLeader file photo
Many residents said they saw an immediate increase in traffic in New West when tolls on the Port Mann doubled last month.
— image credit: NewsLeader file photo

TransLink statistics seem to back up New Westminster’s worst fears.

Counts culled by the NewsLeader from TransLink’s website show traffic volume during afternoon rush hour on the Pattullo Bridge has increased in both directions by more than six per cent since tolls were introduced on the new Port Mann Bridge.

Traffic heading from New Westminster to Surrey from 3 to 6 p.m. on weekdays was an average of 8,690 in the last two weeks of November 2012 before the toll was first instituted Dec. 1, 2012. In the first three weeks of January 2014 that TransLink recorded (no count done Jan. 6-10) the same time-span count rose to 9,292, an increase of 6.5 per cent. Most of the escalation came recently since the average in December 2013 was only 8,677.

Traffic coming the other direction—Surrey to New West—in the afternoon rose by 6.1 per cent from November 2012, but the increase is a recent phenomenon.

In November 2012 it was 7,645, and dropped to 7,575 during the three weeks surveyed in December 2013 before bouncing up to 8,139 last month.

The morning rush hour, 6-9 a.m., had a couple of twists to it. The heavy volume coming from Surrey actually dropped 1.5 per cent from November 2012 (8,851) to January 2014 (8,721).

Although the count of traffic using the Pattullo to go to Surrey in the mornings was substantially lower than the other counts, it also showed the biggest increase, as a percentage, rising from 4,528 in November 2012 to 6,026 in January, a leap of 24.9 per cent.

It appears truck traffic wasn’t as big a factor as regular commuters in the rise of traffic. The daily counts showed vehicles bigger than a car or a light single-unit truck using the Pattullo went from 6,738 in November 2012 to 6,980, a 3.5 per cent increase.

“Certainly the numbers seem to be backing up what people all over the city of New Westminster are seeing,” said Coun. Jonathan Coté, co-chair of the city’s master transportation plan task force.

“Congestion is becoming significantly worse.”

Last week, British Columbia Transportation Minister Todd Stone admitted traffic volume on the Port Mann is down between 5,000 to 6,000 cars a day compared to traffic before the toll was introduced, but he expected the drop to be temporary.

“The province is really trying to stick their head in the ground and says this doesn’t exist,” said Coté.

“This is not a difficult problem to solve it just needs some political willpower to solve and work toward a solution.”

Queen’s Park Residents Association (QPRA) president David Brett said while the statistics don’t reveal where the increased traffic is coming from, Brett believes the answer isn’t hard to figure out.

“It’s most likely toll avoidance. It seems so obvious.”

However, another factor might be the entire South Fraser Perimeter Road, with a direct connection to the Pattullo but not to the Port Mann, opening in December 2013.

• The South Coast Region head for the transportation ministry was to appear at the Queen’s Park Residents’ Association annual general meeting at Centennial Lodge on Sunday (2 p.m.), but has bowed out because of family constraints, said Brett. However, he added the meeting will still include a detailed debriefing on the organization’s request for a total ban on heavy trucks on Royal Avenue.


Daily weekday averages of traffic using the Pattullo Bridge for November 2012 (Nov. 19-23, Nov. 26-30) prior to tolls on the Port Mann Bridge, December 2013 (Dec. 2-6, 9-13, 16-19*) prior to the tolls being doubled and the opening of South Fraser Perimeter Road, and January 2014 (Jan. 13-17, 20-24, 27-31):

Nov. 2012    Dec. 2013    Jan. 2014   %change**

Overall                         69,879          74,924         79,340        11.9%

Northbound 6-9 a.m.    8,851             8,446            8,721        -1.5%

Northbound 3-6 p.m.    7,645             7,575            8,139          6.1%

Southbound 6-9 a.m.    4,528             5,537           6,026         24.9%

Southbound 3-6 p.m.    8,690             8,930           9,292            6.6%

* Dec. 20 not included because numbers were significantly lower on last day of school before Christmas break

** Percentage change from Nov. 2012 to Jan. 2014


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