September 21, 2018
For Immediate Release
Borden-Carleton – Borden-Kinkora MLA and Opposition Transportation Critic Jamie Fox is concerned about the fairness and public safety implications of proposed changes to phase out cash transactions to cross the Confederation Bridge.
“Not all Islanders or visitors use debit or credit cards, either by choice or circumstance. Moving away from cash to debit and credit transactions for bridge tolls may sound like a good idea but I’m hearing concerns that if approved then this change will unfairly discriminate against low-income travelers and those who choose to use cash. Not to mention potential job losses at the bridge,” says Fox.
Last fall the Confederation Bridge conducted a pilot around eliminating cash toll transactions during overnight periods from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. between October and May each year. Based on concerns from motorists a revised proposal would require motorists to use an intercom at the toll both to buzz for staff assistance. Transport Canada has yet to officially endorse this change which was anticipated to take effect this October if approved.
Fox says that he’s also hearing from bridge users and stakeholders worried about the public safety implications of reducing staffing levels and access to cash transactions at the toll booth during winter months when weather can be a factor.
“The bridge is our only round the clock transportation access to the mainland and a vital link used for commerce, tourism and medical transportation. If mechanical or technical difficulties prevented electronic toll transactions during winter months then motorists may not be able to access the bridge in a timely fashion, requiring staff performing other road safety duties to have to set aside those tasks and increase risk to the traveling public,” said Fox.
Fox is urging the province to lobby both Strait Crossing and Transport Canada to address these public safety and consumer fairness concerns before any proposal is approved.