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Weekly Edition - Published  8 February 2015


Local News Report - Mobile Page

Discounts for local Mersey Tunnel users and budget savings to the Combined Authority

REDUCING the level of funding from the local authorities for Merseytravel's operations, discounts for Mersey Tunnels' Fast Tag users and a freeze on cash tolls were supported by the Merseytravel Committee at its meeting. Members considered Merseytravel's budget recommendations which include reducing the transport levy for the second year running on local authorities from £113.7m 2015/16 to £105.4m for 2016/17, which equates to a reduction of over £22 million in the last 2 financial years.

These savings have been made possible through reduced operating costs and additional income generated by Merseytravel as part of its medium term financial strategy.  Savings have also been made through efficiencies over a number of years including more efficient service delivery and savings in our commissioning and procurement processes.  As part of the budget setting process, Merseytravel also agreed its Corporate Plan for next year and identified improving connectivity for the City Region, developing a City Region Bus Strategy, delivering its own transport services effectively, promoting affordable public transport and supporting the Combined Authority as its 5 key priorities for next year.

At the same meeting, Members also supported four proposals regarding the Tunnel Tolls and a £27.8m grant to Merseytravel for the safe operation and management of the tunnels on behalf of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

A task group, set up at the request of the Combined Authority to review the Tunnel tolls, put forward recommendations that form part of the proposals regarding the tolls for 2016/17.  The proposals include a freeze on cash tolls, increasing the Fast Tag discount by 20p for Class 1 vehicles; with proportionate discounts for other classes of vehicles, allowing all emergency services liveried vehicles free travel through the Mersey Tunnels and free travel for all users between 10pm on 24 December and 6am on 26 December each year in recognition that public transport services are not available during these times.

Said Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of the Merseytravel Committee:- "It has been our policy for many years to drive down costs and as a result significantly reduce the levy required from the Combined Authority while still demonstrating value for money. As a result, councils are able to retain more funds to support directly delivered services at a time when they, like all public bodies, are being required to do more with less. This year's budget proposals reflect that commitment as we have reduced the levy again this year, and by 17% over 2 years, and we have a package of proposed savings measures for consideration. Merseytravel has achieved this by making significant savings in the cost of managing our assets and in the operation of our direct services. We are also looking to retain the resources we need to deliver our corporate priorities for the benefit of the Liverpool City Region from taking forward big infrastructure projects to further developing smart ticketing and our work in improving Merseyside's connectivity through Transport for the North.  In relation to the Mersey Tunnels, the proposed tolls will result in savings and targeting discounts through the Fast Tag scheme is the best way to help regular and local users. The savings for even infrequent users are still significant at the rates of discount that are being recommended and I would urge all Tunnel users to consider Fast Tag even if they are not using them every day."

As the Mersey Tunnels are now assets of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, it will consider the recommendations made by the Merseytravel Committee and take a final decision on the level of tolling and budget setting at its meeting.


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