In a previous post I touched upon the cost of commuting across the river, the main issue being that the pricing of the various means of transport does not encourage people to leave their cars at home, time to look at this more closely...
A person driving through either of the tunnels in a normal car will pay the following fees
There is no discount for a return journey but a regular commuter can use a Fast Tag and receive a 20p reduction on each journey, this makes a return journey cost £2.60. The Fast Tag is a good choice because you pay on a per-use basis rather than a fixed monthly cost, so if you miss a day here or there you do not lose money.
These are the fees for using the train from Hamilton Sq to James St, this is one stop, a journey of about a mile.
You can see immediately that a single is £2.30 compared to £1.50 for a car, a return is £2.80 compared to £3.00 for a car.
It's the rail passes that are interesting though, for a 5 day commuter a weekly pass is £1.72 each way, more ven than just paying on the day. The monthly pass is £1.36 assuming 22 working days in a month. However, unlike the car commuters who only pay when they use the tunnel, a rail commuter pays a fixed fee for a month, so if you miss a couple of days the cost per journey can jump to £1.50
The ferry is a bit better
A weekly pass will set you back £1.10 per journey and the monthly pass £1.02, again provided you don't miss any days. But the ferry is slow and cold and if you miss it you could be waiting half an hour for the next one, having said that it is a lovely way to travel.
While researching this I noticed Merseytravel is to introduce a new smartcard, the Walrus, but it doesn't say if the pricing structures will be affected, in fact it looks like it will stay the same, certainly until the pay-as-you-go version is introduced in 18 months time.
So where does this leave us? Well as we've seen in many scenarios it is cheaper or no more expensive to travel by car than by train or ferry which is no incentive for Wirralians to commute by bicycle. The river is an unfortunate barrier to cycling, in most parts of the country a cycling commuter could travel their whole journey by bicycle, a cyclist commuter between the Wirral and Liverpool is forced to interrupt their journey with another mode of transport. Many cyclists will ride down to Hamilton Sq/Woodside so that they get the most exercise and spend the least amount of time possible on the train or ferry, but even this very short journey is more expensive than the tunnel.
It would be nice if Merseyrail/Merseytravel show some commitment to getting people out of cars by restructuring their pricing and they could start with this most obvious discrepancy, a reduction to £1 single, £1.50 return would not significantly reduce revenues but would provide an incentive for people to change and would be symbolic commitment to nudge people into changing their habits.