The authority also has to take into consideration the socio-economic impact of the tunnel toll, and the report notes that the “Merseyside economy is still performing below national average across almost all key indicators”.
“There are significant reputational and financial risks associated with this report,” states the report.
“From a financial perspective, a decision not to increase the ‘actual tolls’ will result in a potential loss of revenue of £2.6m for the authority.
“However, any decision to increase tolls is likely to result in adverse publicity and the relevant risks this brings.
“To mitigate this risk, a pro-active media statement could be produced and Fast Tag discount levels maintained for most frequent users.”
It also states that decisions on setting the tunnel tolls are no longer taken in isolation.
“The proposed Mersey Gateway crossing toll will have a link to the Mersey Tunnel toll levels and therefore applying high levels of discount against the authorised toll levels will impact on the Mersey Gateway business plan significantly.”
A 10p rise for cars (from £1.50 to £1.60) equates to around 7%.
If a 7% rise were replicated for vehicle classes 2, 3, and 4 (different size HGVs, the new costs would be £3.20, £4.80, and 6.40 respectively.
The report states that the “default position is that tolls must rise in line with inflation”.
The cost of using the tunnels “must keep pace with other transport alternatives”.
“It ensures that sufficient funds are recouped to cover the costs of operating and maintaining tunnels,” the report adds.
And “it ensures that the authority continues to receive a valuable surplus from the tolls which is then invested into public transport alternatives.”