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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 May, 2005, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Bigger bills for Forth crossing
Repairs and higher crossing charges - but only one coin is needed now
The charge on the Forth Road Bridge has risen to 1 - the first time the fee on Scotland's busiest toll crossing has increased in almost 20 years.

Costs of meeting the increasingly expensive repairs to the crossing have been blamed.

The days of fumbling for loose change to pay the 80p fee have ended, but many want the tolls scrapped altogether.

The new 1 toll applies to cars and light goods vehicles not exceeding 3.5 tonnes.

Bridge operators said all other tolls will stay the same.

The Forth Estuary Transport Authority (Feta) had planned to introduce the toll rise last year, but a Fife resident's objection forced a public inquiry.

Protester's letter

The reporter found in favour of Feta and gave the green light to a rise coming in at the beginning of May.

The Scottish Executive accepted the ruling and agreed to revise the "tolls order", which allowed the new levy to come into force.

Authorities said the delay had cost it 1m in lost revenue - money that could have been put towards the bridge's increasingly expensive repair programme.

Tolls were originally due to stop in 1995 - the bridge has no debts and reserves of 18m
National Alliance Against Tolls

Feta claimed during the inquiry that it would face debts of almost 30m by 2018 if it was not allowed to raise tolls.

George Campbell, whose letter of complaint prompted the inquiry, argued that the tolls already generated millions of pounds for maintenance - and had paid back the cost of building the bridge.

Mr Campbell was supported by Fifers Against Toll Increases and the National Alliance Against Tolls (NAAT).

John McGoldrick from the NAAT spokesman said: "Tolls were originally due to stop in 1995. The bridge has no debts and reserves of 18m."

A Scottish Executive-commissioned review of the country's tolled bridges is still on-going.

An initial report, published in December, said that decreasing or removing tolls on the Forth Road Bridge could attract additional traffic, mainly from the Kincardine Bridge, increasing the already heavy congestion at peak periods.


SEE ALSO:
Vote favours 'new Forth Bridge'
29 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Forth Bridge toll rise confirmed
21 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Bridge work will disrupt traffic
15 Apr 05 |  Scotland
Motorists attack bridge toll rise
07 Dec 04 |  Scotland
Toll rise 'needed to meet costs'
06 Dec 04 |  Scotland


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