Severn Bridge travel to Wales rises after tolls end

Severn Bridge
Image caption,
Tolls to cross the Severn bridges into Wales were scrapped on 17 December after 52 years

The M4 Severn crossing into Wales has seen a rise in use of more than 10% since tolls were abolished, according to figures from Highways England.

Traffic figures show 32,420 vehicles daily used the crossing in January and 35,457 in February compared with 28,897 and 31,866 for the same period in 2018.

Before the tolls were abolished on 17 December it cost cars £5.60 and HGVs £16.70 to make the westbound crossing.

The eastbound crossing did not have tolls.

The charge has been in place since the first crossing was opened by The Queen in 1966.

Image source, Kim Tozer
Image caption,
Kim Tozer has plans to visit lots of places of interest in Wales now that the toll for the bridge has gone

The new data reflects a UK government study which suggests that by 2022 more than 24 million vehicles every year would use the crossings westbound, compared with 18 million if the tolls had stayed in place.

People living near the bridge suggested they were now more inclined to cross it to make social visits and days out.

Kim Tozer lives with her husband in Bradley Stoke, South Gloucestershire.

Her two sons live in Chepstow and Newnham on Severn.

"We're using the bridge a lot, now the tolls have gone, to visit family," she said.

Members of a Facebook group Mrs Tozer belongs to have been posting about days out in Wales and suggesting places to visit.

"It's like a mental barrier has gone now you don't have to get in the queue (for the tolls) and Wales is becoming a destination for people from here," she said.

Image source, Peter Moon
Image caption,
Peter Moon said getting rid of the toll means it is a straight drive from Bristol to Chepstow and that has helped his business

Chepstow estate agent Peter Moon has noticed a lot more traffic since the removal of the toll.

Mr Moon's business has also seen a boost in sales of property ranging from £350,000 to £400,000.

"Initially we saw a hike in sales of first-time homes up to £250,000, but now more expensive houses are selling because the toll has gone so psychologically Bristol to Chepstow is a straight car journey," he said.

Although the queues for the toll booths have disappeared Mr Moon said there was still a queue into Chepstow.

"I think people who used to go home from Cheltenham and Gloucester using the A48 to avoid the toll don't bother any more and people pop over here socially now," he said.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
People had a chance to walk along the original Severn Bridge after it was opened in 1966

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