Mersey Ferries to re-start commuter services and temporary suspension of Mersey Tunnel tolls to end from Thursday 14 May.
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has announced that the Mersey Ferries will return to the river as weekday commuter services will resume from this Thursday 14 May.
The announcement comes as more people are expected to travel and return to work this week following the Prime Minister’s announcement regarding a limited easing of lockdown restrictions.
The Mersey Ferries were temporarily suspended during lockdown due to a significant decrease in demand, which saw only a handful of passengers on each service.
However, that demand is expected to increase as some people return to work and the ferries will provide an important option for cross-river river travel for those that need it.
The commuter service runs between Seacombe and Liverpool, from 07:20 hours to 10:00 hours and again from 16:00 to 19:00 hours.
Thursday 14 May will also see the Mersey Tunnel tolls re-instated from 6am. The temporary suspension of the tolls was introduced when lockdown was announced to support key workers making essential journeys and as collecting payment was not considered an essential element of the journey. Now that lockdown restrictions are easing, and non-essential traffic has seen the doubling of journeys, tolls will be reinstated and there will be no increase this financial year.
Tunnel customers will be asked to pay by Fast tag, contactless bank card, or the exact cash amount as staff will be unable to give change, to protect both customers and staff.
The temporary relaxation of the byelaws that also allowed cyclists to make essential journeys through the Queensway (Birkenhead) tunnel will now also be removed for safety reasons, due to the increased volume of traffic. The reinstated Mersey Ferry service will provide an alternative option to cross the river for cyclists.
In addition, the temporary lifting of the 9.30am concessionary travel restrictions will also be removed from Thursday 14 May to reduce demand during peak times.
Social distancing should still be observed, and government guidance followed, including face coverings where appropriate.
Merseytravel is continuing to work closely with the Government and transport operators on plans to increase the capacity of public transport services, as safely as possible, as further national guidance is issued and clarified. Further information on this will be released as it becomes available.
Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor for the Liverpool City Region, said:
“Safety must be the guiding principle as we start to get transport moving and I must stress that public transport won’t be returning to pre-lockdown levels for some time. Adhering to social distancing continues to be vital, which means much less space is available for customers on buses, trains and ferries.
“We are already seeing more people starting to travel and expect that to continue to increase following the Prime Minister’s announcement.
“So now is the right time to reintroduce ferry services, reinstate tunnel tolls and the 9.30am concessionary travel restriction as these were always temporary measures.
“As essential travel restrictions have started to be eased, those measures need to end.
“So, I would ask for those people who may start to return to work to think carefully about their journeys, how, when and by what mode they will travel.
“I’m also asking people who need to travel, to consider walking and cycling wherever possible.
“I would appeal to employers to play their part and ease the pressure on transport services by continuing to support home working and considering flexible working patterns.
“During the lockdown, the Combined Authority has been losing around £5m a month. These measures were always temporary, and sadly we simply can’t maintain them in the longer term whilst incurring fixed costs. If we are to maintain a sustainable transport system for the city region we will need government support to secure the future of the network.
“We will continue to face huge challenges as a city region, so I am urging people to follow our transport advice to help us stay safe and save lives.”