Mersey tunnels could see new price rise

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Kingsway tunnel could face toll price increase © Wikimedia / Creative Commons / Chris Croft

Kingsway Tunnel could face toll price increase © Wikimedia / Creative Commons / Chris Croft

Mersey tunnels could see a further increase in toll prices this week.

Merseytravel has proposed a 10p increase for car users using both the Kingsway and Queensway Tunnels, increasing the price per trip to £1.80.

This would be the third consecutive rise in as many years, with the last being to £1.70 in April 2014.

Members of the Merseytravel committee will decide on the finalised recommendations when they meet on Thursday this week, with the ultimate decision to be made the following day by the Liverpool City Region combined authority.

David Brown, Chief Executive of Merseytravel, said: “[We] have to weigh up a number of factors – the need for continued investment in the tunnels, the impact on tunnel users and the role of surplus funding.

“This is ringfenced for investment in key transport infrastructure projects for use across the Liverpool City Region.”

The increase is under the 2004 Tunnels Act, which states that tolls should automatically rise in line with inflation, but with the option of a lesser rise or freeze based on economic or social pressures.

However, groups such as the Mersey Tunnels Users Association (MTUA) are against tolls altogether.

The MTUA has described the toll as “virtually a Wirral tax”, despite assurances from Merseytravel that it is different to a taxation regime in that the user pays for service that they do not have to use.

Merseytravel says it will also be considering the proposed freezing of the current Fast Tag pre-payment system at £1.40 in an attempt to reduce the financial pressures on those who use the tunnels regularly.

The Fast Tag system is an alternative way to pay for passage through the tolls without using cash. It is an electronic device that allows users to pay via direct debit and top-up as required.

Last week Merseytravel rolled out a trial of Fast Tag-only lanes at the Kingsway Tunnel, where one lane was dedicated to Fast Tag users – which make up four in 10 of the journeys through this and the Queensway Tunnel – in an attempt to ease congestion and speed up travel times.

Liz Carridge, Communications Manager at Merseytravel, told JMU Journalism: “In reviewing the first week of operation there have been no major issues and some positive feedback.

“We’ve monitored and the traffic volume going through the Fast Tag lane is higher than any other so it is the quicker option. There have been some cash users entering the lane in error but we have staff on standby to assist with that until people get fully used to the lane.”

About James Tomlinson, JMU Journalism