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Revealed: The cheapest and most expensive UK toll road and bridge charges and how you can avoid them

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 GMT
Author: Staveley Head

If you’re an owner of one of the 295,000 taxis or private hire vehicles on the road in the UK, then it’s likely you’ve come across one of the 19 dreaded toll roads or bridges. As specialist providers of taxi insurance, we bring you all the need-to-knows about toll roads/bridges and alternative routes you could take to avoid paying, maximising your profits on fares.

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What are toll roads/bridges?

Of the 246,700 miles of road in the UK, toll roads/bridges make up just a tiny percentage. But even so, they are the bane of every motorist on a long journey who often find themselves frantically searching for forgotten change in every nook and cranny of their car. The official meaning of a toll road or bridge is a section of road which motorists are charged a fee to continue their journey.

Why do you have to pay toll charges?

In 2018-19 it’s expected that motorists will pay £6.2 billion in Vehicle Exercise Duty, which is a tax levied on every vehicle using public roads in the UK, so why do we have to pay for Toll roads/bridges!?

The reason for the charge is to help recoup the cost of building the roads as well as the maintenance and improvement of local roads. It also encourages private sector involvement in building and/or maintaining parts of the road leading to privatised toll bridges/roads.

It may come as no surprise these roads or bridges are often located over rivers, which usually dramatically cuts the length of a trip, in turn making these routes extremely busy and more likely to need more maintenance than other, lesser used routes.

How did toll roads/bridges come about?

You’re probably wondering “who in their right mind invented tolls?”. Well, in the 1600s many boroughs faced bankruptcy due to the cost of maintaining roads into London, so they lobbied parliament for the right to charge tolls to pay for the upkeep of roads. 

Where have toll charges been removed in the UK?

Scotland completely removed tolls in 2008 saving regular users up to £4,100 and Wales has removed tolls from 2 major bridges, Cleddau Bridge and the Severn bridge, with regular users making a combined saving of up to £1,700. 

England, on the other hand, has made the landmark decision to start charging a toll on a previously untolled bridge. The bridge in question is the Silver Jubilee Bridge which will re-open in 2020 with a new tolling system charging drivers £2.00 per crossing.  

Your comprehensive list of UK toll road/bridge charges and payment methods

The biggest frustrations of toll road/bridges are firstly having to pay, closely followed by how. We live in a growing cashless society, relying on contactless payment and Apple/Android pay instead of cash.  

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So, we've put together a handy list of all the toll roads, bridges and tunnels in the UK with the price of the toll and payment methods they accept. The price based on maximum/peak charges for a single taxi vehicle, however, some toll roads/bridges can offer off-peak charges. As a taxi driver, this handy list will mean more jobs in less time which equals more money; pukka! 

RoadBridgesToll Charge
Prices
correct as
of 16/0
4/2019
Payment Methods
Boat Ln Aldwark Bridge £0.40 Cash
Pre-paid tickets (bought online)
A4 Batheaston Bridge £0.80 Cash Only
Cartford Ln Cartford Bridge £0.40 Cash Only
B3129 Clifton Suspension Bridge £1.00 Cash (£2, £1, £0.50, £0.20, £0.10 only – no change is given)
Crossing Card
Card*

*(Card accepted at toll booths only – please park and pay)
M25 Dartford Crossing £2.50 Pay online
Pay with cash at your nearest Payzone store
Set up an account by post
Pay in advance or top-up your account by postpay or set up an account by phone
A57 Dunham Bridge £0.40 Cash
Pre-paid card (See website for details)
A15 Humber Bridge £1.50 Cash
Credit/Debit Card
Contactless*
TAG*(Apple/Android Pay Not Confirmed)
A3025 Itchen Bridge £0.60 Cash
Smart Cities Card
Kingsland Bridge Rd Kingsland Bridge £0.20 Cash Only
A533 Mersey Gateway Bridge £2.00 Pre-paid account (10% Discount)
Pay online
Pay by phone (8am-8pm Mon-Fri and 9am-6pm Sat, Sun and Bank Holidays.)
Merseyflow Walk-in centre (Howard Court, Manor Park, Runcorn, WA7 1SJ between 9am-7pm Monday-Friday and 9am-6pm Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holidays)
At one of 10,000 Payzone outlets across the UK
B4044 Swinford Bridge £0.05 Cash only
A38 Tamar Bridge £1.50 Cash
TamarTAG
B5159 Warburton Bridge £0.12 Cash
Yearly pass
B471 Whitchurch Bridge £0.60 Cash
Bridge Cards
B4350 Whitney-On-Wye Bridge £1.00 Cash (£2, £1, £0.50, £0.20, £0.10 – No change is given)
Tokens (see website for details)
Season Ticket (see website for details)
Tunnels
A41 Mersey Tunnel Queensway £1.80 Cash
Fast Tag
Contactless*
Apple/Android Pay*

*(Contactless/Apple/Android
Pay only available at attended lanes)
A59 Mersey Tunnel Kingsway £1.80 Cash
Fast Tag
Contactless*
Apple/Android Pay*

*(Contactless/Apple/Android Pay only available at attended lanes)
A19 Tyne Tunnel £1.70 Cash (£2, £1, £0.50, £0.20, £0.10 only)
Tyne Tunnels pre-paid account
Roads
M6 M6 Toll £6.40 Cash (Euro Notes Accepted)
TAG (5% Discount on Toll)
Credit/Debit Card
Contactless* *(Apple/Android pay not accepted)

 

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(Source)

ALDWARK BRIDGE - North Yorkshire

By paying the toll you make a saving almost as big as the Iceberg which hit the bridge in the 19th century! (true story).

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 3.0 9 mins £0.40 + £0.37 for fuel £0.77
Avoid toll* 16.6 31 mins (See route below) Free + £2.05 Fuel £2.05

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 (Source)

 

BATHEASTON - BATH, SOMERSET

When it comes to Batheaston, it’s better to avoid the toll bridge as you can save £0.38 and you’ll get there 6 minutes quicker! 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 1.6 10 mins £0.80 + £0.20 £1.00
Avoid toll* 5.0 16 mins Free + £0.62 £0.62

 

Cartford Bridge - Preston, Lancashire

You’d be better off paying the toll to cross the Cartford bridge as you save some money but more importantly, 10 minutes off your journey.

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 0.8 2 mins £0.40 + £0.10 £0.50
Avoid toll* 5.0 12 mins Free + £0.69 £0.69

 

Clifton Suspension Bridge - Bristol

You should avoid the Clifton Suspension bridge unless you’re in a hurry as it’s £0.74 cheaper to use the A3029 with only 4 minutes added onto your journey.

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 1.5 6 mins £1.00 + £0.19 £1.19
Avoid toll* 3.6 10 mins Free + £0.45 £0.45

 

DARTFORD CROSSING - Essex/Kent

If you’re using the Dartford Crossing between 6am and 10pm then you’d be better off to pay the toll, it’s £0.03 more expensive but it reduces your trip by a staggering 25-40 minutes.

Route

Distance (Miles)

Time

Cost (Toll + Fuel)

Total Cost

With Toll

6.2

12-18 mins

£2.50 + £0.77

£3.27

Avoid toll*

26.2

40 – 45 mins

Free + £3.24

£3.24

 

DUNHAM BRIDGE - Lincoln, Lincolnshire

There’s a clear winner here and that’s the Toll Bridge as it would cost £2.42 more to avoid it and it would add well over 30 minutes to your journey.

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 2.4 5 mins £0.40 + £0.30 £0.70
Avoid toll* 25.2 40 mins Free + £3.12 £3.12

 

Humber Bridge - Hull, Yorkshire

You’d be best to pay the toll as you save almost £6 and an hour in travel time. Which makes this by far one of the most time and cost-effective toll bridges.

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 5.2 13 mins £1.50 + £0.64 £2.14
Avoid toll* 65.3 1h 8 mins Free + £8.08 £8.08

 

Itchen Bridge - Southampton, Hampshire

This route would come down to how quickly you needed to get to your destination, by paying the toll your journey time is at least halved but it comes at a cost of £0.31.  Beware of the peak times Monday to Friday 7am-9:30am and 4pm-6:30pm where it’s £0.60 for the toll. 

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 1.8 6 mins £0.60 + £0.22 £0.82
Avoid toll* 4.1 12-16 mins Free + £0.51 £0.51

 

Kingsland Bridge – Shrewsbury, Shropshire

Avoid the toll and save some pennies!

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 0.4 3 mins £0.20 + £0.05 £0.25
Avoid toll* 1.4 8 mins Free + £0.17 £0.17

 

Mersey Gateway – Halton, Cheshire

This one is a no brainer, with a time saving of up to 30 minutes, the £0.54 cost could be the difference between missing and catching your flight! 

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 3.7 7-9 mins £2.00 + £0.46 £2.46
Avoid toll* 15.5 28 - 40 mins Free + £1.92 £1.92

 

Swinford Bridge - Swinford, Oxfordshire

One of the cheapest and most cost-effective toll bridges with a saving of £1.36 and 20 minutes of your trip, we think it’s worth every one of those 5 pennies. 

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 0.6 2 mins £0.05 + £0.07 £0.12
Avoid toll* 12.0 18 - 24 mins Free + £1.48 £1.48

 

Tamar Bridge – Plymouth, Devon

The only reason you would avoid paying the toll on this is if you were really against toll bridges! 

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 2.9 6-8 mins £1.50 + £0.36 £1.86
Avoid toll* 22.0 1h – 1h 10 mins Free + £2.72 £2.72

 

Warburton Bridge – Warburton, Greater Manchester

A lovely little bridge with an even lovelier toll price. Save yourself £0.97 and 15 minutes by taking the toll bridge. 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 0.8 3 mins £0.12 + £0.10 £0.22
Avoid toll* 9.6 16 – 20 mins Free + £1.19 £1.19

 

Whitchurch Bridge – Pangbourne, Berkshire

No competition here, the toll bridge is 15 minutes quicker and £0.43 cheaper!

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 1.4 6 mins £0.60 + £0.17 £0.77
Avoid toll* 9.7 22 mins Free + £1.20 £1.20

 

Whitney-On-Wye Bridge – Whitney-On-Wye, Hereford

With little difference in cost this one comes down to time, and you can save up to 12 minutes by taking the toll route. 

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 0.3 2 mins £1.00 + £0.04 £1.04
Avoid toll* 8.8 14 mins Free + £1.09 £1.09

 

Mersey Tunnel Queensway – Birkenhead, Liverpool

With the Silver Jubilee Bridge now closed and set to re-open with a toll, the only way into Liverpool across the River Mersey without paying a toll comes at a hefty cost. For taxi drivers going to Birkenhead from Liverpool, the Queensway (Birkenhead) tunnel is the cheaper route and with Mersey Tunnel toll prices are set to decrease, this option will become even more cost effective.

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 3.1 9-12 mins £1.80 + £0.38 £2.18
Avoid toll* 56.5 1h 5 mins Free + £6.99 £6.99

 

Mersey Tunnel Kingsway – Wallasey, Liverpool

If you’re traveling to North Wales from Liverpool, then the most cost-effective route is to pay the toll for the Kingsway (Wallasey) tunnel or face a much longer journey. 

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 4.5 13 mins £1.80 + £0.56 £2.36
Avoid toll* 60.4 1h 27 mins Free + £7.47 £7.47

 

Tyne Tunnels – Wallsend, Tyne and Wear

By paying the toll you can save up to 25 minutes, but this comes at a cost as it’s £0.27 more than the longer, alternative route. 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 3.5 6-8 mins £1.70 + £0.43 £2.13
Avoid toll* 15.0 22- 35 mins Free + £1.86 £1.86

 

M6 Toll – West Midlands

With a £6 saving, you’re best to avoid the toll as it is only slightly longer than the tolled route. 

 

Route Distance (Miles) Time Cost (Toll + Fuel) Total Cost
With Toll 24.0 24-35 mins £6.40 + £2.97 £9.37
Avoid toll* 27.1 35 - 40 mins Free + £3.35 £3.35

 

Did you know these toll road/bridge facts?

  • The Kingsland Bridge charges pedestrians £0.01 to cross.
  • There is no charge to cross Itchen Bridge on Christmas Day.
  • You don’t have to pay tolls if you’re using public transport.
  • The Queensway Tunnel featured in the second to last Harry Potter film, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part One”.

 

*Avoiding toll charges distance and time calculations obtained from using Google Maps.

Do you know of any other ways to avoid toll roads/bridge charges? Let us know on our Twitter and Facebook pages. Alternatively, feel free to share this article with any other taxi drivers you know to help them save time and money.

 

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