Tunnel tolls to
rise, but Fast Tag unchanged
members decided to raise Mersey Tunnel cash tolls for Class 1
vehicles by 10p from April. However, the Authority decided not
to increase Fast Tag charges for the coming year.
The new £1.60 toll for cars represents the first rise since 2011 –
and is less than the 'authorised' level of toll which should be
charged in accordance with the Tunnels Act and linked to inflation.
Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel, said the rise was
unavoidable. "We understand that motorists will not
welcome any rise, but members of the Authority decided on this step
after extremely careful consideration.
The decision to make no change to Fast Tag charges means that many
motorists will feel no adverse impact at all, and it should be
welcomed by all tunnel users. Everyone can take advantage of Fast
Tag and benefit from a reduced charge every time they use the
Local people and businesses alike can benefit from the cheaper rate.
We were very conscious of the economic background, and acknowledge
that the region is facing a challenging time, but under the Mersey
Tunnels Act it is presumed that the actual tolls charged must rise
in line with inflation.
If that were the case this time, tolls would have had to rise to
£1.80, but members used their powers to restrict the increase to
Increasing the toll fee by 10p for Class 1 vehicles, and
proportionately for other classes (by 20p for Class 2, 30p for Class
3 and 40p for Class 4) while leaving Fast Tag charges unchanged,
generates around £1.4m a year for the Authority.
Overall, the tunnels currently generate income of £5.6m after
deducting capital and running costs, as well as repayment of debt.
Cllr Robinson said:- "This 'surplus' is used to support
other aspects of the highly successful integrated transport system
which Merseytravel is responsible for. Aspects of the whole system
depend on each other, with tunnels, ferries, bus and train services
all inter-dependent. Without the income from the tunnels,
concessionary passes might be under threat, for example, as would
unprofitable bus services which commercial companies would not
increase Mersey Tunnel tolls criticised by FSB
THE Federation of Small
Businesses is criticising the decision by Merseyside's Integrated
Transport Authority (MITA) to increase the Mersey Tunnel toll by 10p
for cars, which had previously been frozen since April 2011's 10p
The decision follows a report from Merseytravel, the operating name
for MITA and the Merseyside Passenger Transport Executive (PTE),
calling on MITA committee members to recommend the 'authorised' toll
levels for cars and goods vehicles.
John Allan, Chairman of FSB Merseyside, West Cheshire and Wigan,
repeated his earlier statement that the move would amount to
'economic madness'. He said:- "Small firms are among the
most frequent Mersey Tunnel users and I say again that, particularly
at a time they are struggling under tough conditions, it is economic
madness to mount further taxes on top of the burden they already face.
Merseytravel had the ability to give firms in the region some good
news by freezing these tolls, but it will undermine them and damage
confidence by increasing them instead.
We need a pro-growth tax environment that allows small businesses to
flourish, not one that holds them back, or worse makes it even more
difficult to survive. In other areas of the country similar charges
have been reduced or done away with altogether.
The Humber bridge toll has been scrapped, the Greater Manchester
congestion charge scheme dropped after widespread opposition and now
it is even free to cross over to the Isle of Skye ; does Merseytravel
really want to put Liverpool City Region and its small businesses at
a competitive disadvantage, putting short-term revenue-raising ahead
of long-term growth?"
The Merseytravel report warned that the authority could lose £2.6
million unless a rise is imposed, but recognised that Merseyside's
economy is performing below the national average and that committee
members must also consider the socio-economic impact of the Mersey
Tunnel toll level.
A 10p rise for cars (from £1.50 to £1.60) equates to around 7%. If a
7% rise were replicated for vehicle classes 2, 3, and 4, which are
different size HGVs, the new costs would be £3.20, £4.80, and £6.40
Other recommendations included maintaining the current level of
Tag' frequent user discounts and producing a proactive media
statement to counter the anticipated adverse publicity any toll rise
The report emphasised its 'default position' that tolls
should rise in line with inflation – an annual power created by the
Mersey Tunnels Act 2004.
Further, it said any decision must consider tunnel operation and
maintenance costs and be made in line with the cost of 'other
transport alternatives' - including the proposed Mersey Gateway
'business plan' to toll a second Runcorn-Widnes River Mersey
crossing and impose a fee to cross the existing Runcorn Bridge.