CONGESTION and long traffic queues have returned to a busy commuter route into Oxford city after a toll bridge started charging motorists to cross the Thames at rush hour.

Toll collection has resumed at the Swinford Toll bridge near Eynsham, from 8am after operating only between the hours of 10am and 2pm since it reopened in February after the pandemic.

Villagers and drivers have claimed the bridge, where motorists are forced to stop to pay 5p per car, and up to 50p per lorry, causes traffic jams and air pollution.

One driver complained: "There was an exceptionally long queue this morning at 8.45am.


"I think the publicity and pressure should come from an environmental perspective, highlighting the damage to the quality of air the unnecessary queues are causing.

"The installation of an ANPR system would be the solution. It would be unreasonable to suggest that the charge is abolished as presumably the bridge is owned by a commercial organisation who are well within their rights to levy a toll."

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But a contributor on Tripadvisor this month was less understanding.

They wrote: "Enjoy the view while you inhale that toxic pollution.”

Another said: "Horrible toll. Should be removed to allow free traffic flow. Instead the traffic is held up for this privately owned bridge translating to massive pollution emitted with idling vehicles from small cars to large lorries.

Oxford Mail:

"Never mind the irresponsible managers who allow their employees collecting the toll to breathe in all the diesel particles for a future with dementia and other health related problems. This toll needs to be removed completely. National disgrace."

There have been several campaigns over the years to make the bridge toll-free, including one which called on Oxfordshire County Council to buy the bridge - however, the council said they did not have enough funds for it.

The bridge was sold at auction for £1,080,000 million in 2010 along with a nearby cottage, a car park and more than four acres of land.

And the council said it has no legal powers over the hours of operation.

A spokesperson for OCC said: "Swinford Toll bridge is a privately operated bridge and section of road. The operator has an historic right to charge tolls during hours set by the owner.

"We continue to work with the owner to consider the impact the collection of tolls has on the wider network and how we could potentially improve the traffic situation."

The toll house was contacted for comment.