Passenger vehicles will now pay $2 per trip, up from $1.50
MONTREAL — Just over a year after being introduced, Highway 30 tolls are going up by more than 30 per cent.
For passenger vehicles, the toll will rise to $2 per trip on Feb. 1, up from $1.50.
For trucks, the rate will increase to $1.50 per axle, up from $1.15.
It’s the first rate hike since the toll section of the bypass highway opened in December 2012.
The toll is only charged to cross the bridge that links Valleyfield and Les Cèdres.
A private consortium — A30 Express — built and operates the highway’s new $1.5-billion section between Châteauguay and Vaudreuil-Dorion, south and west of Montreal.
The good news for drivers is that they’ll get a break on transponder fees. Bridge users can buy transponders that allow them to automatically pay tolls.
As of Feb. 1, transponder account management fees (up to $2.70 per month) have been eliminated. The consortium had planned to start charging a $5 fee to purchase a transponder. That plan has been scrapped and transponders will remain free.
The price increase is partly due to inflation, said Denis Léonard, general manager of A30 Express.
But the bulk of the hike is due to a surge in bridge usage in its first year of operation, he said.
Under the consortium’s contract with Quebec, rates rise when traffic reaches certain thresholds, he noted.
When the bridge opened, it was being used by about 10,000 vehicles daily. By the fall of 2013, that number had doubled, Léonard noted.
The provincial government has an interest in allowing toll rates to rise. Quebec gets a cut of toll revenue when it surpasses amounts set out in the contract.
For example, in 2013, the province got half of any revenue that came in after the first $3.08 million. Transport Quebec said it’s too early to provide a figure for its 2013 share of toll revenue.
Léonard said tolls will be adjusted annually based on inflation and traffic, but he doesn’t expect another big hike next year.
“We’re not going to double traffic every year,” he noted.
The increase is not expected to discourage people from using the toll bridge, Léonard said.
At $2 for a car, the toll is still a bargain because it helps drivers save time and avoid traffic by bypassing Montreal Island, he said.
At the Montreal-area’s other toll bridge, the cost of crossing has edged upward.
In May 2011, a Highway 25 toll bridge linking Montreal and Laval opened.
The initial toll for passenger vehicles was $2.40 during peak weekday hours and $1.80 at all other times. Those who crossed without a transponder paid the toll plus a $5 fee.
Today, the rate is $2.48 during weekday peak hours and $1.86 at all other times. Those without transponders now pay the toll plus $5.15. The last hike was in June 2013.
The private consortium that operates the Highway 25 bridge continues to charge a monthly account management fee for transponder users. That fee can be as high as $2.57 per month. Highway 25 transponders are free.