Frustrated driver refuses to pay toll

I'd rather be walkingOn the evening of Sunday, June 16, it took me and thousands of other drivers over 40 minutes to cross the Port Mann bridge from Surrey to Coquitlam. There were 4 lanes of stalled westbound traffic, after 9 PM on a Sunday night! I took the first exit after the bridge, and made a major detour over unfamiliar roads in the dark, because there was no sign that the traffic on Hwy 1 was moving at all. In total this caused an hour delay in my return home. There were no posted warnings on Hwy 1 that there was bridge congestion and travellers should take the Golden Ears bridge.

Treo’s website says, “What will you do with the time you save? The new Port Mann bridge is here.” What a joke! Ha ha. And the joke is on us.

Treo’s parent corporation, Transportation Investment Corporation (TIC), says, “When lane closures are permitted, traffic will be monitored to ensure that delays on Hwy 1 do not exceed 10 minutes between Coquitlam and Surrey.”

Due to their failure to meet their posted level of service, I filed a complaint with Treo and requested that they reverse the $1.50 toll. Treo’s line, via email and the frontline staff, is “We are only the tolling operator of the bridge. Traffic and construction on or around the bridge is beyond our control.”

Actually, TIC is responsible for oversight and financing of the bridge, which means oversight of the Kiewit-Flatiron contracting consortium. Recent news items (re: ice on the bridge cables) clearly indicate TIC does have the power to hold Kiewit-Flatiron responsible for failure to meet contractual obligations.

News articles also indicate that TIC keeps extensive data on how many vehicles cross the bridge, and when. Which means they could predict the impact of the construction delays on travellers. To force thousands of people to sit and wait for an hour or longer on a Sunday evening is not acceptable.

I hope the other drivers who had to wait that night are also refusing to pay the toll.

Persistence pays off

I kept escalating my complaint with Treo until finally it reached someone four levels above the original operator. This person was able to authorize Treo to compensate me. To the tune of four toll crossings—a value of $6! Of course I used up much more than $6 worth of my time to pursue this complaint, but sometimes it is the principle of the thing that matters. And fighting big corporations who think they are not accountable to the people they serve is a worthy effort. I hope more people will fight injustice. Even if it’s just worth $1.50.