National Alliance Against Tolls - Fall in Forth Traffic - Press Release January 2006

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Fall in Forth Traffic - Press Release 20 January 2006

TRAFFIC on the Forth road bridge with its controversial tolls has fallen. This is revealed in figures which have just been obtained by the National Alliance Against Tolls in Scotland.

At the end of November when FETA, the authority that runs the bridge, wanted to keep and increase tolls, it was claimed that the tolls were necessary to restrain traffic. FETA referred to an 8% increase in traffic during October. They said that they were applying to the Minister for the tolls to continue and eventually be increased by up to 4. The immediate reaction of Tavish Scott, when provisionally backing the tolls and increases was to refer to "how quickly traffic is rising on the Forth road bridge".

Traffic was indeed up in October, but the figures now revealed show that traffic in November and December was down on the year before. Taking the year as a whole it is still up on 2004, but the bridge actually carried over 100,000 less vehicles in 2005 than it did in 2003. Traffic figures 2003 to 2005 (Excel spreadsheet)

A spokesperson for the Alliance said:-
"In the current controversy over proposed increases in tolls, it seems to have been forgotten that the tolls on the Forth road bridges are due to end on the 31st March. That is they will stop unless Tavish Scott, the Lib Dem Transport Minister, makes an Executive order that the tolls should continue.

Almost no one want the tolls. The various claims including increased traffic are just designed to fool people into accepting tolls.

The reality is that the traffic in peak periods is there because it needs to be and there is little practical choice.

If any traffic is deterred by tolls, it is off peak, when people would have been travelling for shopping and leisure and to visit friends and family.

Tolls do not reduce congestion they make it worse. They add to it because of traffic queuing at the tolls, this particularly affects traffic queuing in Dundee to pay the tolls on the Tay bridge. They also affect it indirectly as on the Erskine bridge, where the bridge is underused while crossings further up the Clyde are congested.

We have been making approaches to politicians and are heartened that some of them are strongly in support of removal of the tolls and have been so for many years. But unfortunately there are too many politicians who want to keep a tolls regime or who just sit on the fence.

In December, George Campbell an anti toll campaigner from Glenrothes in Fife, wrote to Gordon Brown reminding him that at a toll inquiry in 1985 he called for the tolls to be scrapped. Gordon Brown had even introduced a Private Member's Bill to scrap tolls on both Forth and Tay bridges. It is good that Gordon is now calling for no toll increases, but why doesn't he go the whole way and again urge that the tolls be stopped?

We hope that the Dunfermline and West Fife by-election will encourage all the political parties to come off the fence and end the scourge of this Toll Tax in Scotland."

1. Traffic figures (Traffic figures 2003 to 2005 (Excel spreadsheet)):-
October 2005
: 1,033,088, 2004: 958,302, 2003: 1,041,788
November 2005: 966,317, 2004: 977,820, 2003: 965,562
December 2005: 922,625, 2004: 949,371, 2003: 944,476
All year 2005: 11,904,984 , 2004: 11,781,378 2003: 12,005,151

2. NAAT Scotland have made various suggestions to improve traffic flow including-
removing toll collection, using tidal flow in peak periods (as used on the Golden Gate bridge and other crossings), improving approaches, and carrots to encourage car sharing etc, without the need for the stick of tolls.
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