The Mersey Gateway Project

MGCB Service Update

The week ending 17 May was the busiest for
traffic across the Mersey Gateway Bridge since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown
began back in March. An extra 45,000 vehicles crossed the bridge compared to
the previous week.

New data shows that the traffic level at the
height of the lockdown was less than a third of the typical pre-lockdown number
of vehicles flowing across the bridge between Runcorn and Widnes.

However, whilst the past week has been the
busiest since 16 March, overall traffic is still at less than half of
pre-lockdown levels.

Traffic has dropped across all vehicle
classes, though the new figures shared by bridge operator merseyflow do show
how traffic patterns have varied across different vehicle types over the past
two months.

  • The quietest week was week commencing 6th
    April when just 154,000 vehicles crossed the Mersey, compared to a typical
    pre-lockdown average of almost 500,000 journeys.
  • Class 4 vehicles – HGVs and other large
    vehicles – went from around 7% of daily traffic up to 13% of daily traffic at
    the height of the lockdown, before reducing back to their current figure of 10%.
  • Halton residents, Blue Badge holders and
    registered customers have all significantly reduced travel as a result of the
    lockdown.
  • Motorcyclists have taken advantage of the
    lockdown easing and better weather, with the past week showing the highest
    number of motorcyclists crossing the bridge in a single week for several months
  • The number of PCNs issued reduced
    significantly and payment on time rates remained high at almost 98% during
    April and May.
  • A growing percentage of people paying for
    their journeys using the merseyflow quick pay app, which has now been downloaded
    over 26,000 times since it was launched last November.

A number of new features for the app are now
being tested and will be ready for roll-out within the next few weeks.

Tolls/charges remain in force on the bridge,
despite a number of urgent requests from Halton Borough Council, which have
been supported by merseyflow, to the UK Government to temporarily waive
tolls/charges during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK Government has not agreed to this
request as it has maintained its stance that continuation of tolling/charging
on crossings is a matter that has to be considered in a national context.

Neil Conway, Chief Executive of merseyflow,
said: “These figures show just how much people across the north west have
reduced their travel during the lockdown. They will also act as a guide to how
much things are slowly getting ‘back to normal’ in terms of behaviour patterns
as the lockdown gradually eases. We’ve just finished the first week of things
being more relaxed, but it is clear that less people are staying at home as
there was an extra 45,000 journeys made last week.”

Mike Bennett, Managing Director of the Mersey
Gateway Crossings Board, said: “I think these figures show how responsible
people have been over the past two months in minimising non-essential journeys.
It also shows how the changing message from Government since 11th
May has certainly had an impact on traffic activity levels here in the north
west.”

PCN numbers continue to fall year-on-year as Covid-19 impacts on Mersey Gateway traffic numbers

The latest Mersey Gateway figures show how people are heeding Government guidance and cutting out non-essential travel since the lockdown began on 23 March.

They also show a continuing year-on-year reduction in the number of PCNs issued (a 14% drop) and the income received from PCNs (a 20% drop).

These are like-for-like comparisons as the cut-off date of the end of March would be too early to reflect any impact of Covid-19 on the number of PCNs issued and customers paying.

The detailed figures, which are presented in the quarterly Mersey Gateway dashboard and cover January – March 2020, show:

  • Covid-19 lockdown impact starting to show in journey figures traffic levels in March 2020 were at their lowest since the bridge opened as people followed Government guidance to only undertake essential travel.
  • A 14% reduction in the number of PCNs issued compared to the same period last year (meaning 24,000 fewer PCNs were issued), which means more people are paying on time for their crossing.
  • Record high traffic levels for January and February – before the lockdown began traffic levels for January and February were at their highest ever.
  • Over 97% of journeys were paid for on time (either through their account or by midnight the day after crossing).
  • Income from PCNs was down 20% when compared to the same period in 2019.

The merseyflow quick pay app, which is now available for iPhones and Android phones, has been downloaded over 25,000 times since it was launched, and is now the second most popular method of payment (after the merseyflow website). A number of new features for the app are now being tested and will be ready for roll-out within the next few weeks.

Tolls/charges remain in force on the bridge, despite a number of urgent requests from Halton Borough Council, which have been supported by merseyflow, to the UK Government to temporarily waive tolls/charges during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK Government has not agreed to this request as it has maintained its stance that continuation of tolling/charging on crossings is a matter that has to be considered in a national context.

Whilst it is unclear how long the lockdown will last, the next quarterly dashboard – due in July – will show some significant changes as people minimise non-essential travel, including:

  • a huge drop in traffic volume – journeys in April have dropped significantly, with weekday traffic volume running at just 35% of the pre-lockdown numbers
  • a significant reduction in the number of PCNs issued
  • a significant reduction in income from tolls/charges and PCNs.

Neil Conway, Chief Executive of merseyflow, said: “The world has changed significantly in the past month, and the January to March figures are just starting to tell that story. Our message to everyone is to stay safe and only travel if it is essential in line with the latest Government guidance. I’d also recommend that anyone who is paying for individual crossings downloads and uses the merseyflow quick pay app as it is the quickest and easiest way to pay for individual journeys.”

He added: “We’re very supportive of the stance Halton Borough Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board have taken by asking the Government to temporarily waive tolls/charges at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to support them with that.”

Mike Bennett, Managing Director of the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, said: “We’re continuing to work with Halton Borough Council’s leadership team to demonstrate to Government why tolls/charges should be temporarily waived at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic. These quarterly figures, and those from the first two weeks of April, show that people here are doing their bit by cutting out essential travel.”

He added: “Whilst toll/charges are still operational, it is really important that people pay for their journeys. I would encourage anyone who uses the bridge regularly to register with merseyflow and get a discount on their crossings.”

The quarterly merseyflow dashboard provides a range of in-depth statistics and graphs which show information on the number of crossings made, average daily traffic, number of PCNs issued, payments made on time, total revenue and what percentage of this comes from PCNs.The dashboard can be viewed at www.merseyflow.co.uk/stats

The Mersey Gateway Bridge is being lit up Royal Blue on Thursday nights in April in support of our NHS staff.

As we continue our efforts to support the temporary waiving of toll charges during this emergency period, the Mersey Gateway Bridge is being lit up Royal Blue on Thursday nights in April in support of our NHS staff. The popular rainbow support colours will also feature on other nights throughout the month as we encourage everyone to Stay Home, Stay Safe

Coronavirus: merseyflow Walk-in Centre closing ‘until further notice’

In response to the latest Government advice on the COVID-19 outbreak, and in order to protect the wellbeing of its staff and customers, merseyflow will be closing its Walk-in Centre from 7pm on Tuesday 24 March 2020 until further notice.

Payments can be made remotely through the following channels: • www.merseyflow.co.uk • via the merseyflow quick pay app • by phoning 01928 878 878.

Online facilities such as the merseyflow website and the quick pay app will operate as normal. Customers may experience longer waiting times when phoning merseyflow due to an increase in calls and reduced staffing levels.

Merseyflow is also extending all Halton Resident and Blue Badge plans, which means customers with one of these plans can continue using it without needing to renew until further notice.

Customers whose plans were due to expire do not need to take any action and will not receive a renewal reminder, as their plan will simply continue providing them with unlimited crossings until further notice.

Neil Conway, Chief Executive of merseyflow, said: “These are exceptional circumstances which require exceptional measures. We will be closing the Walk-in Centre to protect the wellbeing of our staff and customers and we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause. We also recognise that a large number of Halton residents and Blue Badge holders come to the Walk-In-Centre to renew their plans, which is why we have extended all of these until further notice.”

Neil added: “We would like to thank our fantastic employees for their commitment and dedication during this difficult time. We look forward to seeing you all again as soon as it is safe for us to reopen the Walk-In Centre.”

To open an Merseyflow account, update account details, pay for a crossing, pay a penalty charge notice or appeal a penalty, please visit www.merseyflow.co.uk.

Merseyflow will continue to closely monitor the situation and adhere to the latest Government advice. For the most up to date information, please check merseyflow’s social media channels regularly:

https://www.facebook.com/merseyflowtolls/ • https://twitter.com/merseyflow

Halton Christmas Toy Appeal

The organisers of the Halton Christmas Toy Appeal are celebrating their best year yet.

More than £300 and hundreds of brand-new toys have been collected at Merseyflow’s walk-in centre in Runcorn for the campaign.

It means disadvantaged children across Halton will get an extra gift from Santa this year.

The aim of the Appeal, run by Widnes-based mum of four Nicky Woodward, is to make sure less fortunate children from across Halton have something to enjoy this Christmas.

Since the Appeal first launched five years ago, over 300 local babies and children up to 18 have benefited from the campaign.

The Mersey Gateway Crossings Board staff have contributed to the best year yet for toys collected, with four large boxes of brand-new toys donated to disadvantaged children in the area.

The money will be used by the Halton Christmas Toy Appeal to buy additional age – appropriate toys which will be distributed to children in some of Halton’s most deprived areas.

Mersey Gateway Crossings Board have been pleased to support the Halton Christmas Toy Appeal. Supporting the valuable work of Nicky and her team has seen all the team contribute and boost the worthy Appeal on behalf of those in need in Halton.

Halton Borough Council Mersey Link

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Mersey Gateway Project