SURREY - It comes as little surprise the Port Mann Bridge is seeing a surge in drivers now that the span no longer has a $3 toll each way, but it turns out the number of serious car crashes isn’t growing along with the overall volume.

Figures from the Ministry of Transportation reveal that the bridge saw a 60 percent spike in vehicle traffic on the bridge from 2014, when 94,000 vehicles a day were recorded crossing, to 2018 when 150,100 vehicles went across every day.

Port Mann chart

The NDP scrapped the toll, as they’d campaigned they would, on Sept. 1 of 2017. The Horgan government estimates that’s saving the average commuter $1,500 a year.

"I think removing the tolls was the right thing to do. It was very unfair to have people living in one area, having to pay tolls to get to work, to visit family, to do anything else," said Transportation Minister, Claire Trevena.

When asked what the government would do as a result of the congestion that’s followed as a result, the minister reiterated how pleased she was the tolls were removed. When asked whether there is a possibility the tolls could return in the event of an economic slowdown and slumping government revenues, Trevena again replied, "we're really pleased we removed the tolls."

The silver lining in the lineups

While regular rush-hour commuters are frustrated by the increased volume that often has them slow to a crawl as they approach the Port Mann, Mounties are OK with the slowdown.

RCMP Traffic Services spokesperson Cpl. Mike Halskov says that anecdotally, fender benders and minor crashes have increased with the volume, but serious crashes have not seen the same growth because everyone is travelling slower and with lower speed come less serious collisions.

"Even still, people should drive defensively and keep their distance," he said.

Halskov also notes that with the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday, many travelers will be taking the Port Mann Bridge out of town to long weekend destinations that will probably take them onto highways where winter tires are now mandatory.

Failure to do so can land you a $109 fine.