Friday 30 September 2022, JW Marriott Grosvenor
November 2022, Virtual
21 November 2022, Hilton London Metropole
Scottish motorists can now travel toll-free across the country”s bridges for the first time in 40 years, following the abolition of all charges.
The issue has proved hugely controversial as debate has raged for years concerning such causes celebres as the Skye Bridge, which finally ended charges, as well as the Erskine and now the Forth (Edinburgh) and Tay (Dundee) crossings.
Tolls have joined a long queue of contentious subsidies that those south of Hadrian”s Wall do not enjoy and the Scottish Executive”s generosity will certainly not come cheap.
Bridge charges for the Forth Bridge alone brought in around ”12m ($23.5) per year, with this figure broadly expected to be subsidised by the Scottish taxpayer, while a one-off payment to the Tay Bridge authorities will come in at ”14.8m.
”Some years, it [subsidy] will be ”7m, while for others it will be ”20m,” a Forth Estuary Transport Authority spokesman told ABTN, adding: ”It will average around ”12m.”
Scottish politicians have not been slow to capitalise on the news either, having mandated toll abolition prior to the last election.
”For the first time in more than 40 years, travellers driving across the Forth and Tay Bridges can move free of charge,” said Transport Minister, Stewart Stevenson. ”[This] is the end of years of injustice for the communities of Fife, Tayside and the Lothians.”
Some green campaigners have not welcomed the move with open arms however. They have predicted significant traffic increases into Edinburgh, which threw out any thought of a congestion charge some time ago ” ”it”s dead and buried” as one observer noted.
But the Forth Road Bridge also has long-term structural issues that require urgent attention. Due to the sheer weight of traffic, there is a corrosion issue common to all crossings of its type that will require a replacement bridge, probably by 2016.
”The government Transport Agency has announced that it has committed to building an additional bridge that can take light rail as well as cars,” said the Forth Estuary spokesman.
”We are working on projects to address the major corrosion, but we won”t know if that is successful until 2011.”
Speculation has centred on an astronomical figure of around ”4bn to construct any new bridge, but whatever the cost, the link is a vital artery between the north and south of Scotland”s capital city.
Bridge tolls have been in force on the Forth and Tay Bridges since they were built in 1964 and 1966 respectively, with charges of ”1 and 80p.
Those living near one major bridge crossing near London, however have been tossed a toll bone. Residents near Dartford and Thurrock will be allowed to make 50 free journeys per year, with subsequent crossings priced at 20p.
The locals will need to apply for an electronic tag to be displayed on their windscreens at a cost of ”10 ” for private cars only. The current toll cost is ”1.