MORE than one million vehicles have crossed the new Mersey Gateway in its first 16 days.

Tolls have been in force since the new bridge opened two weeks ago.

Around 65,000 to 70,000 vehicles are using the crossing every week day.

The first penalty charge notices have been issued this weekend.

The Merseyflow team has delayed issuing them as they have been taking extra time to check initial payments as customers get used to the new tolling system.

David Parr, chief executive of Halton Council and the Mersey Gateway Crossings Board, said: “We’re very pleased that so many people are using the new route in its first two weeks and I’m particularly pleased with the feedback our team has had from a lot of people about the time it has saved them on their journeys.”

One leading north west business backing the project is Stobart Group Ltd.

This company has a major logistics base in Widnes employing 166 people locally and running 135 vehicles supplying time critical deliveries to its’ energy customers across the country.

Peter Cook, chairman of Halton Chamber of Commerce, said: “Last Monday morning I travelled from Chester to Liverpool at 8.30am and returned to Runcorn two hours later with no hold ups.

“Crossing the bridge at 60mph was quite a new experience!

“The view from the bridge made me realise just how big the project has been and what an amazing achievement it has been to construct whilst the traffic was still around.

“The new bridge and infrastructure are brilliant and now ensure easy flow, quick and reliable journeys for businesses and private users alike.”

Anthony Alicastro, chief executive officer of emovis operations (Mersey) Ltd, which runs Merseyflow, said: “It has been a very busy time for the team and for our customers with a lot of people getting used to the new system, and we are checking all of the journeys that people have made very carefully so I’d ask our customers to be patient when it comes to things like journeys appearing on their online accounts.

“What I do want to do is reassure people that if they have registered or if they pay on time, then they won’t get a penalty charge notice (PCN).

“For anyone that does receive a PCN, our advice is to deal with it as quickly as possible as you get a 50 per cent discount – reducing the charge to £20 plus the original toll fee – if you pay within 14days.

“The PCN also contains details of how you can challenge the payment if you feel it has been sent in error.”

Drivers have a choice of either registering with Merseyflow, paying for their one-off journey up to a year in advance or paying for it by 11.59pm the day after they cross.

Almost 70 per cent of the journeys across the bridge have been made by vehicles already registered with Merseyflow.

To register visit, call 01928 878878, visit the walk-in centre at Howard Court, Manor Park.