02/07/2014 01:48 EST | Updated 04/09/2014 05:59 EDT

Port Mann Bridge traffic down, but tolls to remain

Drivers are avoiding Metro Vancouver's Port Mann Bridge, B.C.'s Transportation Minster Todd Stone confirmed on Friday, but the government won't be lowering tolls to increase the traffic.

Stone said there has been an increase in traffic on all other bridges in the area, but there was no big diversion of traffic to the nearby Pattullo Bridge.

He says people need to figure out how much their time is worth because those driving around to avoid the Port Mann are not saving themselves much. He also said the heavy truck traffic in New Westminster was the result of a strong economy.

The 11-lane Port Mann Bridge, which links Coquitlam and Surrey along the Trans-Canada Highway east of Vancouver was first opened in 2012.

But on Jan. 1, tolls on the bridge doubled, and residents living near the smaller Puttollo Bridge in Surrey and New Westminister say that has pushed an increasing amount of traffic through their neighbourhoods as drivers seek to avoid the tolls.

The Port Mann Bridge toll had been set at an introductory rate of $1.50 for cars, pickup trucks and small vans, but that rate doubled to $3 each crossing on Jan. 1.

Rates for larger vehicles weren't discounted and remain the same, at $6 a trip for cars with trailers, and for cube vans and small motorhomes, and $9 for vehicles that are more than eight metres long.