Tunnel tolls, passes and transport taxes are set to increase for residents of the Liverpool City area
Mersey Tunnel tolls, a transport levy and the cost of applying for discounted travel for an elderly person in the Liverpool city area are all set to rise.
The City Region’s Combined Authority, led by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, has released its full budget plans for 2022/23 – which are expected to be approved at a meeting next Friday.
The budget plan includes a number of increased costs that are expected to add more pressure to residents of the beleaguered urban region.
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Here we take a look at some of the major changes.
Mersey Tunnel Tolls
News of increased tunnel tolls came to light last week and has already been approved by the city’s area transport committee, meaning approval is now a formality.
The recommendation is to increase all tolls via the Birkenhead and Wallasey tunnels by 20 pence.
The change will take place from April and will represent the first increase in tolls in five years.
The AC says the increase is a response to growing public sector budget pressures and rising maintenance costs.
The authority said the change in toll charges will also help to cover the shortfall due to reduced traffic from pre-pandemic levels and will also allow investment in supporting key public transport services. .
The increase will mean a single trip through the tunnels in a regular car will go from £1.80 to £2.00.
That same trip with the Liverpool City Region Resident Discount and a Fast Tag will drop from £1.00 to £1.20.
Another cost increase set to be introduced from April is a discounted travel pass for seniors.
Merseytravel, the city’s area travel organisation, is currently running a discretionary concessions scheme which allows all Merseyside local authority residents access to free travel, both by bus and train from 60 years old.
It is one of the most generous plans in the country.
Historically, there has been no charge when it comes to requesting one of these cheaper passes – but that will now change.
It is proposed that from April this year there will be a one-off charge – expected to be no more than £10 – when applying for the Merseytravel Concessionaire Travel Pass.
Residents on Universal Credit would be exempt from the fee.
The budget document also includes a proposal to introduce a one-time administrative fee, which should not exceed £10, for people applying for a discounted travel pass.
In addition to the mandatory UK National Concessions scheme, Merseytravel also operates a Discretionary Concessions scheme which allows all Merseyside local authority residents access to discounted travel, both by bus and rail from 60 years. Historically, no fees have been charged for providing a concession. however from 2022/23 it is proposed that an administration fee will be applied.
Residents on Universal Credit would be exempt from the fee. Merseytravel’s discounted travel scheme is one of the most generous in the country and allows Merseyside residents to travel free by train and bus from the age of 60, seven years before passes became available in under the national program.
The budget meeting will also be asked to approve a proposal to increase something called the transport tax for the 2022/23 financial year.
The Combined Authority has specific powers over transport in the area and these are funded by a transport levy – or levy – which is paid by the six individual councils in the area.
Some councils fund this tax through council tax which they collect from residents.
The AC said the transport tax had “significantly decreased” in recent years, but said a “modest increase” was now needed due to the impact of Covid-19.
The increase will be 2% and will see the amount of money raised by the AC from transport councils rise to £99.352 million for 2022/23.
Explaining the proposed changes, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “COVID-19 has had a huge impact on everyone’s finances over the past two years and the Combined Authority is not immune to this. The costs of keeping our region running, supporting the economy community during the worst of the pandemic and investing to jump-start our recovery has been important and will continue to be felt for some time.
“The government’s failure to deliver on its ‘whatever it takes’ promise of funding has tied our hands financially. This means tough decisions must be made to keep vital public services running while investing for the future.
“Over the past year and a half, we have provided over £44m of support to over 4,000 businesses, keeping many afloat and protecting thousands of local jobs. We distributed millions to small community groups that helped support their neighbors during the height of the lockdown. We’ve funded transformative projects in every part of our region – and launched a £150m COVID recovery fund to give the local economy a springboard to rebound.
“Given the financial pressures the pandemic has placed on us – and the moral duty we have to address the climate emergency – we have been forced to make some tough decisions. In doing so, we have been able to ensure that we can continue to invest in the growth of our region, attract more well-paying jobs and investment, and build the London-style transport network that locals deserve.
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