Plans to upgrade the M6 to cut congestion could mean more pain for bosses of the M6 toll, the Birmingham Chamber Group has warned.
A survey has revealed that more than 75 per cent chamber members, steered clear of the toll road every day because it was too expensive.
Will Rogers, policy adviser at the Birmingham chamber which has around 9,000 members in total, said more drivers would use the M6 after the Government gave the go ahead to a high-tech scheme which would see the hard shoulder used as an extra lane for traffic from junction five, near Castle Bromwich, Birmingham, to junction eight, in Walsall.
Work that will allow the hard shoulder of the M6 near Wolverhampton to be used as an extra lane is already under way.
It is hoped the works will bring an end to the congestion that Mr Rogers said “plagued” the M6 and persuaded motorists to use the toll road – which charges £5 per car and £10 per HGV – instead.
“Many feel the M6 Toll is too highly-priced to provide a viable alternative to the heavily congested M6,” he said. “However, it remains to be seen what will happen once the road widening scheme between Ray Hall and Castle Bromwich is completed.
"That scheme – plus the one currently under way at Wolverhampton – should lead to a reduction in congestion, which could mean less reason to use the toll road than there is today.”
The Chamber survey found that 38.9 per cent of those polled never use the road, and only 27.8 per cent use it on a regular basis.
However, M6 Toll Road chief executive Thomas Fanning defended the route: “Up to 16 million customers use the M6 Toll every year, recognising the benefits of bypassing the congested sections of the M6.”