Mayor: M6 Toll price hike is a bad move
Andy Street has hit out at the latest price hike on the M6 Toll, claiming the rise will discourage drivers from using the route.
The West Midlands Mayor said he was "disappointed" at the new pricing structure, which follows an increase last year and will see weekday journeys go up by 30p for cars and 50p for lorries when it comes in on July 12.
He has written to operator Midland Expressway Limited (MEL) warning that the decision will "do nothing" to ease congestion on other major roads around the region.
In his letter, which is co-signed by Birmingham Council leader Ian Ward, he wrote: "We are disappointed to yet again, find ourselves in the position of having to write to you to express our displeasure with the decision to increase the charges on the M6 Toll, and in particular the charges for Heavy Goods Vehicles.
"Our position remains unchanged in that an increase will do nothing to help move vans and HGVs off the region’s other major roads and onto the M6 Toll.
"As you know Birmingham is introducing a clean air zone and both Transport for West Midlands and the West Midlands Combined Authority are dedicated to improving air quality and managing congestion in the region.
"We have made great progress where we have been working together and we welcome the steps that M6 toll are taking to target and grow HV traffic (for example the pricing deals for commercial operators).
"However another increase in charges, a mere 12 months since the last increase, will only serve to discourage those HGV’s who might otherwise use the M6 Toll.
"While we no longer expect that our objections will result in MEL reconsidering their decision to increase their charges, we felt it important to reiterate our position and to ask that you continue to work with us to improve air quality and manage congestion, two of the biggest challenges this region faces."
The price hike has been slated by the Road Haulage Association, which said: "Any increase in toll charges is unwelcome for the hard-pressed heavy haulage trade struggling with clean air zone charging and tight profit margins.
"Many operators have been put off using the M6 Toll for this very reason and it's hard to see how the increase will encourage more to use it."
Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said it was "hard to see why a better outcome for more drivers couldn't be achieved by integrating it, toll-free, into the Highways England network".
MEL chief executive Andy Cliffe said the new price bands and multi-trip options were brought in in response to customer feedback and will "maximise the positive impact of the M6 Toll across the Midlands and beyond".