Tyne Tunnel traffic will take 'months' to recover after lockdown saw journeys plummet
Managers of the river crossing have blamed the sluggish pace of economic restart, with many businesses still to reopen and workers staying at home rather than commuting to offices.
At the peak of the coronavirus outbreak the number of vehicles using the tunnel fell by about 70% on normal levels.
Tyne Tunnels Manager Fiona Bootle said: “Traffic flows have been significantly lower than normal during the crisis – they were down to 30 per cent of normal levels in March and April.
“It was up to 70% by mid-June, but that is still a much lower level of traffic and to still be 30% down is significant.
“But it has been gradually rising and forecasts suggest it will continue rising throughout the year.
“TT2 has suffered loss of income, resulting in requests to the Department for Transport for support.”
Bootle was speaking at a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Tyne and Wear Sub-Committee, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.
Bosses at the crossing are in negotiations with the government over top up funding which could help them carry on with congestion-easing schemes, such as the Tyne Pass project.
A 10p toll increase for HGVs and other large vehicles due to be implemented in May has been pushed back to August.
Work on the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnels, which reopened following refurbishment in 2019, is still on hold until an Italy-based firm can resume installation of new lifts.
Operator TT2 has been operating a ‘pay later’ scheme on tunnel tolls to help protect staff and drivers from coronavirus.
Customers who do not have a pre-pay account or cash for the toll will press a ‘pay later’ button at the tolls and receive the automatically-generated invoice which can be paid online, via the Tyne Tunnels website.
The firm says the move will reduce close contact between customers and staff, as well as moving its plans to make journeys through the tunnels quicker and easier for customers forward.