Changes to some transport service charges, including Mersey Tunnel Tolls, are amongst the proposals to be considered by the Combined Authority at its meeting next Friday 16 December.
Inflationary pressures and rising energy prices have made it necessary for a review of costs relating to the Mersey Tunnels, supported bus services and Mersey Ferries.
In a bid to keep travel affordable for residents during the cost-of-living crisis, Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, has introduced several cost-saving measures to the region’s public transport.
The cost of a single adult bus fare has been reduced to just £2, its lowest price in years, including on cross-river services where passengers are now saving more than 1/3 per journey compared to last year. The cost of a MyTicket has also been frozen at £2.20, giving the region’s young people unlimited, all-day travel.
The price reductions form part of the Mayor’s wider vision to build a London-style integrated transport network that is faster, cheaper, cleaner and more reliable, providing residents with a genuine alternative to the car.
This includes investments in brand new, publicly-owned trains, a fleet of hydrogen buses and more than £50m invested in new walking and cycling infrastructure.
Under the proposals local people travelling through the Wallasey and Birkenhead Mersey Tunnels will continue to pay the lowest prices. With 45% of all Mersey Tunnels users being T-Flow or Fast Tag holders living in the city region, tens of thousands of people every day will benefit from the lowest toll available.
The price of a discounted single journey for someone living in the city region with a T Flow account will rise by 20p to £1.40, still a saving of 60p against the standard toll.
The cash toll is to be frozen at £2 and the T-Flow toll for non-residents will be increased to match it, rising by 20p from £1.80.
Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, Steve Rotheram, said, “At a time when all other living costs are going up, I want to ensure that we are making it as fair and affordable as possible for our residents to travel.
“Just like many households in our area, local authorities are experiencing the same pressures of rising energy costs which are making our public buildings and critical infrastructure more and more expensive to maintain.
“The Mersey Tunnels demand a huge amount of electricity to keep them running and require year-round maintenance – yet we receive no central government support. Instead, it is left to the Combined Authority to source the funds to keep our tunnels running safely and efficiently.
“The decision to increase prices is never one we take lightly, especially in the current landscape, and we have worked as hard as we can to keep as many charges across our travel network as low as possible – so that our residents will continue to pay the lowest prices.
“While we are committed to giving our residents the best value for their money, these difficult decisions are necessary in order for us to maintain the high standard and operation of the Mersey Tunnels that our residents deserve.”
Under the Tunnels Act 2004, the tolls are allowed to rise in line with inflation, which would take a car cash toll to £2.50 for 2023/24. However economic and social factors can be considered when setting fares and charges – something that the Combined Authority has consistently done, trying to keep tolls as low as possible each year.
Fares for supported bus services will be capped at £2, in line with the new reduced adult single fare introduced by Mayor Rotheram, while young people’s fares on the same routes will be capped at £1.
Mersey Ferries commuter passengers’ fares will remain frozen – £2.90 for a single and £3.80 for a return journey – which it is hoped will encourage more people to use them.
If agreed the recommendations would come into effect in April 2023.
Image: Kingsway Tunnel Toll Plaza, Wallasey