Talks planned over M6 Toll prices
Andy Street says he is planning further talks with M6 Toll bosses in a bid to persuade them to reduce prices on the route.
The West Midlands Mayor claims that lower prices would see a boost in the number of HGVs using the 27-mile stretch, which he says would help reduce pollution and ease congestion on the region's roads.
Previous talks with M6 Toll owners IFM Investors have failed to bear fruit, with the Australian firm putting prices up again this year, to £12 for lorries and £6.70 for cars.
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Mr Street's intervention comes after council leaders called for the toll to be scrapped – a move which could cost up to £2 billion.
The Mayor said: "The M6 Toll is not doing all it should be doing to take HGVs off other roads, particularly off the M6.
"If you look at the proportion of HGVs that are travelling the full length of the M6 Toll, they are only taking about half of the potential traffic.
"I have been disappointed that over the last two years under the new owners, we have not been successful in getting them to reduce the tariffs for HGVs to encourage more to go there.
"They have put the prices up rather than down, so the owners are not doing all that they could."
Mr Street said the number of lorries that could be taken off the M6 and onto the M6 Toll would be "relatively small", with the majority of the traffic travelling to a destination in the West Midlands.
He said scrapping the toll altogether would be "a huge cash call", after the Government said such a move would cost up to £2bn to buy out the private contract.
"I don't think that it would represent the best use of that money. There are a lot of other transport schemes which we should be developing," he said.
"It makes it even more vital that we keep investing in improved public transport and improved road structures within the conurbation."
Mr Street met with representatives from IFM Investors in Australia last year to discuss pricing on the toll, and said he was planning to revisit the issue.
"At the moment they are not thinking about the bigger social issues here," he said.
"I'm convinced there is still an argument to be won with them. If you look at their share of the car traffic, they have actually got a big share already, it's the charging for HGVs that is not encouraging them to use the roads.
"Haulage firms are making an economic judgment about the cost of the toll against the delays they are facing. It looks to me as though the M6 Toll has not got this one right."
The M6 Toll cost of £900m and opened in 2003. Last year it was used by around 50,000 vehicles each day.