PEI

Eliminating bridge toll bad public policy, says AIMS VP

While Islander support for the reduction or elimination of a bridge toll for the Confederation Bridge continues to grow, the vice president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is making a case to keep it in place. 

'We're going to have to pay that bill somehow'

Alex Whalen says any change in the contract with the company that operates the bridge would likely be costly for taxpayers and not a good idea from a public policy perspective. (CBC)

The reduction or elimination of the toll for the Confederation Bridge is a topic many Islanders are passionate about, but the vice president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies is making the case to keep it in place. 

Alex Whalen, vice president of the organization, says he is aware of growing support for a campaign put forward by Sen. Percy Downe to have the toll either reduced or eliminated — but he doesn't think it's a good idea. 

"The users of the bridge should pay for the costs of the bridge," he said. 

Whalen said any change in the contract with Strait Crossing Bridge Ltd. — the company that operates the bridge — would likely be costly for taxpayers and not a good idea from a public policy perspective.

"It was an extremely costly piece of infrastructure to build and we're going to have to pay that bill somehow," he said. 

Since the Confederation Bridge opened 20 years ago, the bridge toll has increased from $35 per car to $47.75 per car. (Steve Bruce/CBC )

Downe has used the example of the new Champlain Bridge in Montreal, which does not have tolls, as part of his own argument to have the Confederation Bridge tolls either reduced or eliminated.

Downe said the toll isn't fair to Islanders. While Whalen agrees with Downe, he said there should be tolls on the Champlain Bridge as well.

Whalen, who is originally from P.E.I., said there's a need to provide a different perspective to what he calls "misguided public conversation" on the topic.

"I think that's the fairest way to do [it]... is to have the people who actually use it, pay the cost," he said. 

More P.E.I. news

With files from Angela Walker

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