Mersey Gateway Toll explained: how to pay the Merseyflow charge
Information on how to pay the Mersey Gateway Toll, and what to do if you want to appeal a fine
Toll roads are still few and far between in the UK, though they are slowly becoming more commonplace. One of the more recent examples to go live can be found on the Mersey Gateway Bridge in Cheshire, which opened in October 2017 to help relieve congestion from the nearby Silver Jubilee Bridge road crossing.
Like its sister bridge, the Mersey Gateway Bridge connects the north and south sides of the Borough of Halton, by providing a direct road crossing across the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal. For the time being, Mersey Gateway is the only one that you have to pay to cross – though that will change soon, as the toll charges will be introduced on the Silver Jubilee Bridge once the long-running renovation works are completed during February 2021.
While the Mersey Gateway Bridge is a toll road, a charge won’t necessarily be levied on every single vehicle that crosses it. Because the two bridges are the only direct road links across the Mersey in this area, residents in the Borough of Halton area are eligible can apply for an electronic windscreen sticker that allows them unlimited travel across the bridges. A £10 annual administrative charge means this isn’t a totally no cost option for local motorists, though it’s far more affordable in the long run than paying for each individual crossing – especially for drivers who regularly use the bridge.
Mersey Gateway Toll charges
The Mersey Gateway Bridge opened on 14 October 2017, and the tolls have been in place since then. The toll charges are in operation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, so if you use the crossing at any time of the day, you will have to pay a toll. The charges vary depending on what you are driving, and are broken down as follows:
- Class 1: Motorcycles: Free
- Class 2: Cars/vans and CVs under 3.5 tonnes/8-seat minibuses: £2
- Class 3: Lorries 3.5-12 tonnes/minibuses under 5 tonnes: £6
- Class 4: HGVs (over 12 tonnes)/Coaches (over 5 tonnes): £8
You can pay the toll in advance of your crossing, or you have until midnight of the following day to pay. There are discounts available if you register with Merseyflow, the company that manages the charges. Register and pay the one-off fee of £5, and you can get up to 10 per cent off unregistered tolls. So you pay as follows:
- Class 2: Cars/vans and CVs under 3.5 tonnes/8-seat minibuses: £1.80
- Class 3: Lorries 3.5-12 tonnes/minibuses under 5 tonnes: £5.40
- Class 4: HGVs (over 12 tonnes)/Coaches (over 5 tonnes): £7.20
The exact discount you’re eligible for depends on the account you set up. The 10 per cent saving is only for drivers with a ‘sticker account’ – which, as its name suggests, involves you putting on your windscreen a n electronic tag sticker that’s scanned when you use the toll road. There’s also so-called ‘video account’ option which does without the sticker, and means you get a smaller five per cent discount when you cross the bridge.
Another option for Class 2 vehicles is to buy a monthly pass. There are two types on offer, the Unlimited travel pass that allows you to do exactly that for £90 a month, or there's the Off-peak pass. This costs £60, but you can't use the bridges during rush hour, which is between 7am-10am and 4pm-7pm, Monday to Friday.
Do bear in mind that the stickers and passes are not transferable between vehicles, so you’ll need to go through the registration process again if you decide to sell your current car and buy a new one. If you have a sticker account, you will also need to pay an additional £5 fee.
Mersey Gateway toll exemptions
As mentioned, local residents who live in the Borough of Halton can benefit from free crossings, as long as they meet the qualifying requirements. They must:
- Live in a property in Halton that is registered in Council Tax Bands A-F (there are also special concessions for certain residents in Bands G & H properties).
- Hold a valid UK driving licence.
- Be the keeper of a vehicle that is registered to an address in Halton. Again, if you lease a vehicle or run a company car, equivalent proof will be required.
- Local residents will then receive an electronic tag that sticks to the inside of the windscreen behind the rear-view mirror which can be detected by sensors on the bridges. As with other modern toll charge systems like the Dartford Crossing and London C-Charge, there are no toll booths to pay at, and the onus is on the driver to ensure the toll is paid.
If you are a Blue Badge holder, you can make unlimited crossings once you have registered and paid a one-off £5 admin fee.
If you fail to pay the Merseyflow charge before midnight on the day after you use the crossing, you will be liable to a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN). This is fixed at £40, although it's only £20 if you pay the PCN within 14 days. There is an appeal process which passes through the Merseyflow team first, then to an independent adjudicator should the initial outcome be considered unsatisfactory.
It might seem like an uphill struggle if you are trying to get an appeal heard, but remember that more than half of all PCN appeals are successful for the motorist, while most cases are closed within three weeks.
Are you affected by the Mersey Gateway changes? Do you feel the tolls are fair or justified? Let us know below.