The Conservatives will scrap the Severn Bridge tolls if they win the general election, Theresa May has said, predicting a £100m economic boost.
Plans to more than halve the current standard fare to £3 were already being explored when a public consultation was launched in January, forming part of wider proposal to transfer the bridge into public ownership by 2018. The bridge needs an estimated budget of £7m annually for maintenance work.
It currently costs motorists £6.70 to cross the Severn Bridge into Wales in a car, while vans and small buses pay £13.40 for the privilege, and lorries and coaches pay £20. Traffic crossing in the other direction to leave Wales does not currently pay a toll.
The pledge goes further than the existing plan to halve the tolls – currently £6.70 for cars – by 2018.
The Labour Party said it was committed to working with the Welsh Government to end the charges.
The prime minister and Conservative leader said the move would “strengthen links” between south Wales and the west of England.
“I want to ensure that our economic progress is shared across the United Kingdom,” Mrs May said.
The two crossings will be operated by Highways England when they return to public ownership in 2018. Annual maintenance costs are estimated at around £7m per year.
Backing the measures, Alun Cairns, Welsh Secretary, said: “Drivers using this key artery between two nations, en route to London, will benefit from a £100 boost to the local area.
“Theresa May will ensure that economic prosperity is spread across the United Kingdom and this clear commitment will guarantee that links are strengthened and enhance between the natural economic areas of South Wales and the South West of England.”