Public Backs the M6toll 16 Million Vehicles in First Year

MEL also announced that:
In 2005, on a date to be fixed, M6toll will donate all tolls collected over a 24 hour period to selected local charities under a 'Drive for Charity' initiative.
The current £5.11 + VAT discounted toll for heavy goods vehicles, due to end on 31 December 2004 , will be extended until further notice.
Tom Fanning , Managing Director of MEL, said the M6toll was playing a major role in keeping the region moving; relieving the M6 and cutting congestion across the West Midlands.

"People now have a real choice," he said. "They can stay on the M6, use a local road, or they can choose the M6toll. Traffic figures for November show that around 47,000 people a day are choosing the M6toll. That's 47,000 vehicles that are not on the M6, so everyone wins.

"The investment in this road, some £905 million, was huge. Consequentially so was the risk, but the public has supported the M6toll in substantial numbers from day one and continue to do so."

Mr Fanning said MEL and its shareholders are fully committed to playing a part in the growth and economic prosperity of the region.

He said: "I am delighted to announce today that from next year the M6toll will be contributing an entire day's toll revenue to charitable causes and community projects within the local region.

Macquarie Infrastructure Group's "Drive for Charity" initiative in Australia is being established here. The M6toll will donate tolls collected over the 24 hour period to selected charities that provide much needed services to the region.

Each chosen charity will receive an annual donation for three consecutive years, as part of "Drive for Charity".

MEL has also decided to extend the discounted toll for HGVs following an encouraging response to the initial trial from hauliers, said Mr Fanning.

Since the £5.11 + VAT daytime rate (£4.26 night rate) was introduced in late July 2004, there had been a significant increase in the number of lorries on the M6toll.

"The response to our initial five-month trial has been very encouraging and we want to build on that success," he said. "Our volumes are noticeably up as more hauliers have chosen to use the motorway, recognising the commercial benefits it offers.

"However, we are also aware that many companies are still in the early stages of trialling the M6toll and have given their drivers discretion to use us when the M6 is severely congested - and that is why we have decided to extend the trial until further notice.

We are making this move now to enable hauliers to have the opportunity to plan ahead into 2005 with some degree of certainty.

Mr Fanning said a sizeable number of companies and drivers had chosen to open tag accounts, the M6toll's electronic payment method that enables drivers to pass through toll stations without stopping. The recently opened dedicated tag lane adds to the benefits of opening a tag account, as tagged vehicles can pass without waiting behind cash paying vehicles.

"The haulage industry is well acquainted with this technology and it will further reduce their journey times so we would urge drivers who currently pay by credit card or cash to consider giving it a try and sign up for tag accounts."

Mr Fanning said that both the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association had been very supportive of the discounted toll, recognising it represented value for money.

Nigel Barton, Director of Operations TNT Express Services UK & Ireland , said: "Having undertaken extensive trials we are making average savings of up to 10 minutes per TNT journey when using the M6toll.

"Whilst the trial was ongoing, MEL initiated a price reduction and introduced dedicated tag lanes, which further encouraged us to open a Tag account. We now have over one hundred in regular use. This has led to increased reliability and operational efficiency on TNT routes which incorporate the toll road. The M6toll is the route of choice for TNT."

The £5.11 + VAT toll was introduced on 23 July 2004 and will now run until further notice.