Use of the new Port Mann Bridge has been down about three to seven per cent compared to a year ago

Use of the new Port Mann Bridge has been down about three to seven per cent compared to a year ago

Port Mann Bridge traffic down five per cent after tolls

Rapid Bus use accounts for some but not all of decrease

Use of the new Port Mann Bridge is down around five per cent since tolls took effect in December.

Transportation ministry officials say 200,000 fewer vehicles crossed the toll bridge in February – 2.7 million compared to 2.9 million in February of 2012 before the crossing was tolled.

About 100,000 fewer vehicles crossed in January, compared to three million a year before.

Transportation Investment Corp. spokesman Greg Johnson said bridge traffic is continuing to fluctuate and it will take time before it stabilizes.

“We are seeing similar volumes to this time last year,” he said.

Asked if the drop in Port Mann traffic equates to a similar increase in traffic at non-tolled bridges, Johnson said he could not speculate on that.

Some of the drop in vehicle traffic may be due to drivers parking their cars and taking the new #555 express bus from north Langley over the Port Mann to New Westminster.

More than 38,000 passengers rode the rapid bus in March, TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said.

The service runs ever 15 minutes at peak times and the 47-seater highway coaches typically carry 35 to 40 passengers over the bridge during the rush.

“It’s meeting expectations and it has room to grow,” Zabel said.

The province also released GPS measurements of the time taken to travel Highway 1 before and after the new bridge opened.

Drivers going from Surrey to Coquitlam have cut their travel time by nearly 60 per cent, the transportation ministry said.

It takes 11 minutes now to travel from 176 Street in Surrey to Brunette Avenue at Lougheed via the new bridge, compared to 35 minutes before it was built.

The gains aren’t yet as dramatic for motorists travelling further into Burnaby and Vancouver on Highway 1, where freeway construction continues throughout this year.

Morning commuters now take 40 minutes to get to Boundary Road at Grandview from 200 Street in Langley, compared to 68 minutes prior to the new bridge. That time is projected to drop again to 23 minutes when the rest of the work on the highway is finished.