DARTFORD CROSSING TOLLS CAMPAIGN
This page covers the campaign against tolls on the Dartford Thames River Crossing and the use of a “free-flow” toll system relying solely on cameras. Although the opposition was unsuccessful, such systems are likely to be extended to other bridges/tunnels and problems with non-payment (including evasion by foreign drivers) persist.
Important note: if you have come to this page because you wish to pay the fee, please go here for details of how to pay the charge: www.gov.uk/dart-charge . But you may care to read why we opposed the charge and the payment system below.
In January 2013 a press release was issued on this subject which contained the following statements:
Government to Raise £7bn from the Dartford Crossing
The Highways Agency is likely to raise a net £7 billion for Government coffers from road users over 25 years by the introduction of “free-flow” charging at the Dartford Crossing. Even after the reduction in journey times which is a potential benefit to road users, the net cost to them is at least £5.5 billion over the same period.
That ignores the inconvenience that will be caused to road users by having to pay the charge, the high risk of unknowingly incurring a £35 penalty charge by forgetting to pay and the general hassle involved in using such a system (the consultation document suggests over 15,000 such events per day of “non-compliance”, i.e. penalty charges needing to be issued). If the toll booths were simply removed, to reduce the congestion they cause, then the benefits to road users would be real instead of imaginary.
This proposal is backed up by a consultation document which is grossly misleading in the financial analysis and implications of the proposals. It also suggests that the tolls are required to pay for more river crossings when the net revenue being raised would pay for a new crossing in as little as two years.
We suggest that this proposal is simply another tax raising measure from the Government and has nothing to do with improving the road system or reducing congestion as claimed.
We encourage all road users to oppose this measure which may set a precedent for other road charging schemes (which the Government clearly has in mind).
Note that the outcome of the new system was as expected in that an enormous number of people are now fined for not paying the toll simply because they do not know how to, are not aware they have to pay, or simply forget.
It has reduced congestion at the crossing to some extent, but not as much as one might have hoped.