For 22 years, I’ve had to put up with the Severn Bridge and its toll.
For those of us who live on the western side of either of the two bridges that cross the eponymous estuary, we learned first to grin, then to bear and finally to grimly accept our fate. Which is that every single time someone comes to visit us for the first time, they make a crack about why one has to pay to enter Wales when it would be far more effective if people were forced to pay to get out. Staggeringly, they all think they are the first to have thought of it. And the most galling thing of all? I don’t even live in bloody Wales.
You may know by now that the tolls on both bridges (the newer of the two is technically the Second Severn Crossing) will be abolished after today (Sunday December 16) when, just over half a century after the first was built, the bridges pass back into public ownership.
Round here, we are largely jumping for joy. Although unquantified, the benefit both to the local economy and to that of the whole of Wales will likely be enormous. For Cardiff, Swansea and any other city, town or village located to the M4 corridor, the effects will likely be hugely significant. Everyone will benefit, from the haulier whose trucks have to pay £20 every time they cross the water, to the person who lives in Chepstow and would love to work in Bristol but is put off by the bridge toll. The maths is simple: it costs £6.70 for each return trip by a private car and, if you do that five days a week for 48 weeks a year, it will cost you £1608 of net income. There is a season ticket but it can’t be transferred between cars and will save you a mere £22 each year.