EDITORIAL: Use the bridges, pay the tolls

Failure to pay their bridge tolls is resulting in ICBC blocking them from driver’s licence or vehicle insurance renewals

As 42,000 drivers in B.C. are discovering, failure to pay their bridge tolls is resulting in ICBC blocking them from driver’s licence or vehicle insurance renewals.

That figure represents an all-time record number of people who have refused or neglected to pay tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges – 25,000 and 17,000 drivers, respectively – worth $3 million for just the Port Mann.

Some feel the measure to deny motorists the ability to drive is overly harsh, and obviously, there is still a level of opposition to the concept of bridge tolling.

It’s a surprising number, given that the Golden Ears has been tolled since it opened in 2009, and the Port Mann became tolled in 2012 as a new bridge.

It’s not as though these fees are new, or haven’t been thoroughly discussed and debated.

The reality is that the movement of traffic through the region requires river crossings, and those structures are astronomically expensive to build.

They have to be financed somehow, and there are bound to be opponents of every option, including road tolls, increased gas taxes, additional provincial tax – or, as is the case here, user-pay.

As for the denial of licence and insurance renewal, serious consequences are not an unusual result of failing to pay for a service.

Don’t pay your hydro and gas bills, lose your power and gas. Ignore your cell bill, your phone eventually goes silent.

The vast majority of bridge users pay their tolls, many by pre-authorized payment.

Fee-ducking drivers are issued three warnings before ICBC issues a “Refuse to Issue” notice.

Aside from isolated cases of billing errors, it would seem the system is fair enough.

If you use the bridges, pay up.