News release
14 April 2020

PCN numbers continue to fall year-on-year as Covid-19 impacts on Mersey Gateway traffic numbers

The latest Mersey Gateway figures show how people are heeding Government guidance and cutting out non-essential travel since the lockdown began on 23 March.

They also show a continuing year-on-year reduction in the number of PCNs issued (a 14% drop) and the income received from PCNs (a 20% drop).

These are like-for-like comparisons as the cut-off date of the end of March would be too early to reflect any impact of Covid-19 on the number of PCNs issued and customers paying.

The detailed figures, which are presented in the quarterly Mersey Gateway dashboard and cover January – March 2020, show:

  • Covid-19 lockdown impact starting to show in journey figures traffic levels in March 2020 were at their lowest since the bridge opened as people followed Government guidance to only undertake essential travel.
  • A 14% reduction in the number of PCNs issued compared to the same period last year (meaning 24,000 fewer PCNs were issued), which means more people are paying on time for their crossing.
  • Record high traffic levels for January and February – before the lockdown began traffic levels for January and February were at their highest ever.
  • Over 97% of journeys were paid for on time (either through their account or by midnight the day after crossing).
  • Income from PCNs was down 20% when compared to the same period in 2019.

The merseyflow quick pay app, which is now available for iPhones and Android phones, has been downloaded over 25,000 times since it was launched, and is now the second most popular method of payment (after the merseyflow website). A number of new features for the app are now being tested and will be ready for roll-out within the next few weeks.

Tolls/charges remain in force on the bridge, despite a number of urgent requests from Halton Borough Council, which have been supported by merseyflow, to the UK Government to temporarily waive tolls/charges during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK Government has not agreed to this request as it has maintained its stance that continuation of tolling/charging on crossings is a matter that has to be considered in a national context.

Whilst it is unclear how long the lockdown will last, the next quarterly dashboard – due in July – will show some significant changes as people minimise non-essential travel, including:

  • a huge drop in traffic volume – journeys in April have dropped significantly, with weekday traffic volume running at just 35% of the pre-lockdown numbers
  • a significant reduction in the number of PCNs issued
  • a significant reduction in income from tolls/charges and PCNs.

Neil Conway, Chief Executive of merseyflow, said: “The world has changed significantly in the past month, and the January to March figures are just starting to tell that story. Our message to everyone is to stay safe and only travel if it is essential in line with the latest Government guidance. I’d also recommend that anyone who is paying for individual crossings downloads and uses the merseyflow quick pay app as it is the quickest and easiest way to pay for individual journeys.”

He added: “We’re very supportive of the stance Halton Borough Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board have taken by asking the Government to temporarily waive tolls/charges at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic and will continue to support them with that.”

Mike Bennett, Managing Director of the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, said: “We’re continuing to work with Halton Borough Council’s leadership team to demonstrate to Government why tolls/charges should be temporarily waived at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic. These quarterly figures, and those from the first two weeks of April, show that people here are doing their bit by cutting out essential travel.”

He added: “Whilst toll/charges are still operational, it is really important that people pay for their journeys. I would encourage anyone who uses the bridge regularly to register with merseyflow and get a discount on their crossings.”

The quarterly merseyflow dashboard provides a range of in-depth statistics and graphs which show information on the number of crossings made, average daily traffic, number of PCNs issued, payments made on time, total revenue and what percentage of this comes from PCNs.

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