MERSEY tunnel tolls are to increase by 10p from April, the Post can reveal.
Transport authority Merseytravel is set to approve the 7% rise from £1.50 to £1.60 for cars on Thursday.
The increase will net an extra £2.6m annually for the Labour-run authority – which is not needed for the upkeep of the tunnels.
Earlier this month the Post revealed that half the annual £37m collected in Mersey tunnel tolls is diverted away from their staffing and maintenance.
Around £10m annually is still being used to pay off historic debts on the tunnels, which stand at more than £58m.
A surplus of £8.1m was returned on the tolls in 2011/12 – with £5.6m of that used to subsidise other forms of public transport.
But despite Merseytravel not needing the additional £2.6m for funding the tunnel operation, officials have recommended the rise.
Under the Mersey Tunnels Act 2004 the transport authority has the power to increase tolls, in 10p increments, to keep pace with inflation.
In previous years the authority has discounted the rate.
Inflation, measured using Retail Price Index, at November was 2.7%, meaning the “authorised” level for cars is £1.80 from April.
But the report to next week’s meeting says discounting should be done when “necessary” or “appropriate” on social or economic grounds.
It states that since the introduction of the act discounts have increased in real terms.
“In broad terms, this is against the spirit of the 2004 Act, which was primarily aimed at ensuring actual Tunnel tolls remained broadly in line with the rate of inflation.”