THE cost of travelling through the Mersey Tunnels looks set to rise for motorists.
Merseyside’s Integrated Transport Authority is being asked to approve a rise in the Mersey Tunnels tolls when it meets on Thursday, February 6.
If approved, the cost of a car journey through Kingsway and Queensway paid in cash will increase by 10p from April from £1.60 to £1.70.
Under the Tunnels Act 2004, the toll should rise in line with inflation, taking a car crossing to £1.80. The 10p discount would be at the discretion of elected members who can take into account economic and social factors should there be an overriding need.
Members are also being asked to approve a rise on the Fast Tag toll, taking it up by 10p to £1.40 for cars.
This means that for every six journeys, the equivalent of the seventh would be free.
Price hikes are also being proposed for other classes of vehicles, with Class 2 vehicles expected to see tolls set at £3.40, Class 3 vehicles at £5.10 and Class 4 vehicles at £6.80.
More than 6,000 people have pledged support for an on-line petition, launched by Shaun King from Wirral, opposing any increases.
John McGoldrick, secretary of the Mersey Tunnel Users Association, told the Globe: “We hope and demand that there isn’t a tunnel increase.
"Most people’s real income isn’t going up and the tunnel is making a big profit.
“It is not as if Merseytravel is making a big loss and it’s the only way of financing the tunnel – that is not the case.
“Each year they say they do not have a choice and that they have got to put the toll up but they really do have a choice.
“Most years for one reason or another they haven’t put up the tunnel toll although in reality they can but we are hoping that they will not do so this year.”
A spokesman for Merseytravel said: “In taking a decision members will be considering a number of factors. Primarily it is about ensuring there is enough to operate, maintain and invest in the tunnels, including there being a satisfactory buffer should unplanned emergency work be necessary.
“The role any surplus funds have in supporting wider transport infrastructure and the wider economic climate will all be taken into account.”
In 2012/13, £12,630,000 was spent on maintenance and improvements of the Kingsway and Queensway tunnels.
As well as 8km of roadway being maintained, ventilation stations, fans, water pumps, electricity generators and close to 5,500 lights need to be kept up and running.
Recent improvement schemes have included the resurfacing of Queensway and soon-to-be completed resurfacing of Kingsway, totaling £5 million pounds, and the fire main renewal in the Kingsway costing £3.5 million.
Any surplus toll revenue generated is ring-fenced for reinvestment into public transport across Merseyside as set out in the Local Transport Plan.
The debt of building the tunnels will not be paid off until 2048.
The full table of proposed charges are as follows: Class 1 current £1.60, new £1.70; Class 2 current £3.20, new £3.40; Class 3 current £4.80, new £5.10; Class 4 current £6.40, new £6.80.