01/22/2015 09:18 EST | Updated 03/24/2015 05:59 EDT

Port Mann Bridge toll increase pushes traffic off Surrey-Coquitlam crossing

B.C. is banking on drivers returning to the tolled Port Mann Bridge, even as the latest traffic figures show the number of drivers crossing the Fraser River between Surrey and Coquitlam has dropped since the fee was raised from $1.50 to $3.

According to the Transportation Investment Corporation, the number of drivers went down every month in 2014 compared with 2013, except for December which saw a three per cent uptick.

Still, the TI Corp. says, early indications for 2015 show that weekday traffic volumes are higher than both 2013 and 2014  — almost five per cent higher in the case of last year.

"Following a number of months of fluctuation, drivers are increasingly returning to Port Mann to take advantage of the significant time savings and traffic volumes on the Port Mann Bridge have begun to stabilize," the corporation said. 

The provincial government had said in 2009 it would foot the entire cost of the new Port Mann Bridge, after an attempt to reach an agreement through a public-private partnership failed.

Dismantling of the old, five-lane bridge began in 2012 with the new 10-lane Port Mann Bridge partially opened to traffic that same year.