THE 20p charge for motorcyclists to use the Itchen Toll Bridge in Southampton is to be scrapped.
It means that thousands of bikers will no longer hold up traffic on the bridge as they fumble for change in their leathers when they approach the toll booth. Electrically powered vehicles will also be exempt from paying the 50p charge (rising to 60p at peak times) imposed on cars and light vans.
However, owners of hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius or Honda Insight, will continue to have to pay the toll. The new charging system could be introduced early next year and follows a review of the cost implications.
Axing the charge, which has been in place since 1991, would cost the council about £20,000 a year in lost income, as almost 100,000 motorcycles crossed the bridge last year.
The hole in council coffers will be met by identifying savings in other areas of spending, the city council’s transport chief said. It follows lobbying by the Southampton Motorcycle Action Group, which said that it would help end queues of waiting cars. Councillor Gavin Dick, Cabinet member for the environment and transport, said that the council wanted to reward environmentally-conscious drivers.
Plans to make it free to park electrically-powered cars in the city are also being considered. “We are looking at ways we can make improvements for motorists and for more people to drive electrically-powered vehicles in the future,” Cllr Dick said. Earlier this year, the Daily Echo revealed that the bridge, which cost £12m when it opened in 1977, had raised £50m in charges.