The Financial Times reports that the operators of the M6 Toll road are willing to allow vehicles to use it free of charge when the parallel motorway is congested, in return from release from an obligation to part-finance a link road. The M6 Toll is a 27-mile for which the private sector operator has a 50-year concession. Charges are £5.50 for cars and up to £11 for lorries, for a 20-minute journey. Traffic is down as much as 45% from peak usage in 2006.
While some of the decline in use must be due to the economic downturn, it looks as though the time saving benefits are too little to justify the toll for many road users. This might seem surprising for lorries for whom ‘time is money’, one would suppose. But perhaps fleet operators skilled in just-in-time delivery can cope with congestion adequately on the parallel roads, without incurring the toll.