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Bridge card blues irk some

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What’s in a colour?

Well, if your bridge toll card is white, unlike the more recent green and red ones, it has expired. And that has at least one local resident upset about losing the trips he still had remaining on it.

When the new one-way toll and swipe card system came into effect Oct. 1, 2000, white bridge cards replaced the red commuter tickets that formerly were collected at each end of the bridge.

Those first cards expired at the end of 2001. A second wave of cards, which are green, are good until June 30, 2002 while most recent red ones are good until Dec. 31, 2002.

One local resident, who didn’t want to be named, was quite upset when he found out his card had expired despite the fact it had four more crossings on it.

“The bridge is not what you call stale bread, it doesn’t expire,” he fumed. “This is not what you call good business practice by bridge owners. It’s not fair business.”

He was particularly upset by the thought that unsuspecting residents could get to the toll booth before realizing their card has expired. If that occurs after hours, when stores selling bridge cards in the Falls are closed, a one-way fare to get back home costs $6 (U.S.)

He did offer a suggestion to Boise Cascade and Abitibi-Consolidated Inc., who own the bridge.

“With the computer technology these days, why can’t they add the four crossings to the new card,” he wondered.

But bridge officials said the cards are completely fair—and that they have no plans to honour remaining trips on expired cards.

“That won’t occur [because of the] expiration date,” said Paul McLaughlin, a spokesperson for the M.D.&W. Railway.

Unlike bridge tickets, which still can be used following a legal battle that argued they didn’t bear an expiration date, there won’t be any leniency for the white bridge cards.

“The cards aren’t forever, they do expire. The expiration dates will be [enforced],” McLaughlin said.

He also said they’ve only received minimal complaints about the card system—and doesn’t see any changes in the future.

Even if commuters have a couple of trips remaining on their expired card, the general manager of the Abitibi-Consolidated mill here said they still offered great savings.

“The cards are a pretty good deal. They offer a pretty significant [toll] deduction,” noted Jim Gartshore.

He noted the bridge toll had not been increased here in 15 years before the new system was put in place.

Still, at least one Fort Frances resident is holding on to his now expired card, hoping that in the near future, the bridge owners will change their minds and let him use up the remaining trips.

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