The time has come for to rethink tolls on the Severn Bridge, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA). The call came as ministers announced their intention to freeze tolls on the Humber Bridge, which are in some cases already significantly lower than those on the two Severn bridges.
Ian Gallagher, FTA’s policy manager for Wales and the South West, said:
"The cripplingly high cost of using the Severn Bridge is a huge detriment to businesses in South Wales and western England. Some of FTA’s members, which operate vans and trucks, are spending tens of thousands of pounds each month just on bridge tolls, making it a tax on doing business in this part of the UK. A serious rethink is needed."
One of the possible solutions that FTA has suggested is amending the current contract with the bridge’s builders, Severn River Crossing plc, to reduce the level of tolls but to levy them over a longer period of time. This would still accrue the same level of income but would place less of a burden on businesses, many of which are already struggling as a result of the recession.
FTA is also advocating a lower tariff for night-time crossings for commercial vehicles.
Gallagher continued: "At present, it costs our members up to £16.30 each time they cross the bridge into Wales. If that figure were to be reduced, overall or overnight, this could be just the sort of stimulus the economy in South Wales in particular needs."