Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

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A303Chris
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Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by A303Chris » Tue Nov 06, 2012 09:23

This jem has just started consultation today by the HA and is for the removal of all the barriers and toll booths at the crossing and the introduction of free flow charging.

What is this you ask, well you will have to pay the toll on line, by phone, in a shop before or after passing through the crossing.

If you do not pay in advance you will have up to 23.59.59 that day to pay or your charge will rise by 20%. If you do not pay by 23.59.59 the following day you will get a fixed penalty charge of £120 reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

Personally I think this is a nightmare. I rarely use the crossing but if I do it is because there is a problem on my attended route on the M25 to the M4 from either the M20 or A12. The last time I did it was at 9.45 in the evening just before free tolls came in beacause the M25 north was closed. I got in at 11.15 therefore to avoid a 20% increase I would have to run around log in and pay. Just seems a way to rake in fines.

The consultation is here

It is part of a DfT consultation on the same thing to be used elsewhere around the country and this consultation says the new mersey gateway bridge will be the same.
DfT Consultation.

What is annoying is why the Scots have got rid of Tolls, the Welsh are thinking the same, the poor English still get stung.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Fenlander » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:01

A303Chris wrote:If you do not pay in advance you will have up to 23.59.59 that day to pay or your charge will rise by 20%. If you do not pay by 23.59.59 the following day you will get a fixed penalty charge of £120 reduced to £60 if paid within 14 days.

Personally I think this is a nightmare. I rarely use the crossing but if I do it is because there is a problem on my attended route on the M25 to the M4 from either the M20 or A12. The last time I did it was at 9.45 in the evening just before free tolls came in beacause the M25 north was closed. I got in at 11.15 therefore to avoid a 20% increase I would have to run around log in and pay. Just seems a way to rake in fines.
A simple way round that would be to allow 24hrs from using the crossing to pay, or even longer.
Why not have an account for regular users, paid in full automatically each month?

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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Mark Hewitt » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:06

Most tolls I've ever seen with free flow also have the option to pay cash. I don't see why this couldn't be done.

Or better; abolish the tolls; job done. And cheap too.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by kevjs » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:28

Looks to be the same as the congestion charge - pay by 23:59:59 the same day for a cheaper fare. Surely there need to be a cut off - e.g. after 18:00:00 you are in tomorrow. Presumably they have done this to match the congestion charge but forgot that ceases at 18:00

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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Bryn666 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:31

Inspired by M50 eflow then.

Foreign drivers will be able to dodge our ANPR system surely?
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Mark Hewitt » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:35

Would it be too much issue to have (say) two lanes for cash and foreign drivers and the rest freeflow?
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by A303Chris » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:42

kevjs wrote:Looks to be the same as the congestion charge - pay by 23:59:59 the same day for a cheaper fare. Surely there need to be a cut off - e.g. after 18:00:00 you are in tomorrow. Presumably they have done this to match the congestion charge but forgot that ceases at 18:00
Difference is congestion zone cut of is 6pm so still gives you at least 6 hours. With the crossing the cut off is 10pm, so if you divert and are not planning to use crossing originaly, you will if on a long journey, have to stop and find a way to pay with out paying more the following day.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by A303Chris » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:43

Mark Hewitt wrote:Would it be too much issue to have (say) two lanes for cash and foreign drivers and the rest freeflow?
that is the obvious way forward, but we are talking the HA / DfT here and common sense is short on the ground.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Glom » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:46

Tolls I've seen in America (well the Florida State Route 528) have a freeflow mainline for those will some sort of pass, but a service carriageway to pay tolls for those who don't have them. Seems like a good arrangement. To be honest I'm surprised that or the London C-charge style system hasn't been implemented before. Seems like such a simple way to get the benefits of tolls without the downside.

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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Mark Hewitt » Tue Nov 06, 2012 10:59

However I think those sorts of systems worked via some sort of tag in your car, whereas this is ANPR with the opportunity to pay later.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Fenlander » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:07

I'm not too keen on the idea of 2 lanes of queueing traffic with the rest free flowing by at 70mph.

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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by J--M--B » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:31

Mark Hewitt wrote:Would it be too much issue to have (say) two lanes for cash and foreign drivers and the rest freeflow?
I would have thought there must be arrangements for paying at the time. What if traffic was diverted and some drivers had not planned to go around that side of the M25, I know I would have no idea about payment systems. Many people have no access to the Internet and certainly might not have access if on holiday. Presumably the telephone system will be a premium rate number.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Ritchie333 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:23

Because I live in Kent and have occasional need to go up to Essex (here's one reason), I make sporadic use of the Dartford Crossing. What I've noticed is the tolls at least put an effective flow control on traffic, and because I generally make a point of coming back after 10pm, I generally consider it a one way toll. Although I notice the toll has gone up again to £2, I don't really have a problem with the tolls. However, I appreciate that when it's a "distress" journey due to other sections of the M25 being closed, that it's a right pain in the rear.

I really should get hold of a Dart Tag, as I notice they last indefinitely and any roadtrip to East Anglia, the East Midlands or Scotland (giving the West Midlands a wide berth) will use it.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by drm567 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:27

A similar system is in use on the freeways in Melbourne, Australia. Doesn't seem to cause any real problems. They sensibly allow, I believe, up to 3 days to pay.

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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by AndyB » Tue Nov 06, 2012 13:08

The M50 has always allowed payment the next day as long as it's been freeflow. It is also charged 24/7, but don't put ideas in DfT's heads!

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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by PeterA5145 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 13:40

On a route where there is a substantial proportion of one-off and holiday traffic I would say providing convenient, well-signposted pay stations near to the crossing (for example at Thurrock Services) is a must. It's not remotely the same as the London congestion charge.
A303Chris wrote:What is annoying is why the Scots have got rid of Tolls, the Welsh are thinking the same, the poor English still get stung.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by A303Chris » Tue Nov 06, 2012 13:42

AndyB wrote:The M50 has always allowed payment the next day as long as it's been freeflow. It is also charged 24/7, but don't put ideas in DfT's heads!
What part of the M50 is this ? Is it the port tunnel or on the actual bypass ? My AA Atlas of Ireland shows a small section which is tolled on the west side of Dublin and I have always wondered if this was right and if it was what the charge was
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Bryn666 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 13:56

Fenlander wrote:I'm not too keen on the idea of 2 lanes of queueing traffic with the rest free flowing by at 70mph.
The A282 is a mix of 50 and 60 limits but I see your point. The current plaza is 40.

The time has come to abolish the Dartford tax anyway, at least that would offset TfL's Blackwall plans.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by FosseWay » Tue Nov 06, 2012 15:17

I dislike how it puts the onus on the driver to find some means of paying. OK, if you're going to/from home it's not overly onerous to go online and pay, but what about people away for the weekend or longer? Not everyone has an internet enabled smartphone. As with the M50 it's one more thing to have to worry about to go and find a relevant shop. I suppose that issue could be reduced somewhat if you could pay at motorway services, at the ferry port/tunnel entrance at Dover and other obvious places.

I draw a distinction between this approach as used for Dartford and the same idea with the congestion charge. The latter is self-proclaimedly a tool for discouraging people from driving in central London during the working day. The addition of a bit of faff to pay when you really must drive in is part of that (and nowhere near as much of a disincentive as £10, IMV). The Dartford crossing is one of the ways we're supposed to take to avoid driving through the middle of London. It seems plum crazy to charge for it at all, never mind to cause other problems, whether the current ones of delays or the suggested ones of having to find somewhere to pay.

There is another option, which is what will be used here from January, though I'm sceptical about this too. When the congestion tax comes in here, the registered keeper of a car will get a bill in month 2 for all the chargeable transits s/he made through the zone in month 1, and the bill will be payable by the end of month 3. For the time being foreign-registered vehicles are exempt, though IME there are far fewer of these in Sweden than the UK, certainly comparing Gothenburg to south-east England. The short timescales inherent in the UK version are obviously removed, but at the expense (literally) of a heck of a lot of administration and postage.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: if you want to tax motorists in order to raise money to pay for things, rather than as a direct disincentive to drive somewhere particular, then the most efficient way of doing that is through fuel duty.
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Re: Dartford Crossing - Free Flow Charging

Post by Lockwood » Tue Nov 06, 2012 17:20

The M50, as soon as I went along it, my mind went to "Next MSA. Now."
Their ANPR seemed to handle my foreign plate quite nicely.

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