Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tolls increase at Dartford River Crossing

Congestion is common at the Dartford River Crossing

The charge to use the Dartford River Crossing is to rise by 50%. The Department for Transport claimed it was an attempt to reduce congestion on what is one of the UK’s busiest sections of toll roads. Motorists using both the northbound tunnels and southbound bridge will now have to pay £1.50 for a car, an additional 50 pence. The changes come into force from 10pm on Saturday 15 November 2008.Rising costs of operating the river crossing are thought to be a reason behind the increase, but Le Crossing, the company responsible for collecting the toll charge, claimed the decision was made by the Department for Transport (DfT) and The Highways Agency. The DfT says the increase is a result of the continuing demand placed on the busy link joining the two ends of the orbital M25 motorway. "The prospect of demand rising has led to a cash price increase on the Crossing," said Paul Malley, spokesman for the Department of Transport. "It will give people an incentive to pay without cash, which will help traffic flow more smoothly."The original £1 fare will still be available to users of the Dart-Tag electronic payment system, while local residents will pay just 20 pence per crossing. Off-peak travel between 10pm and 6am will now be free.

Charges for the Crossing were originally scheduled to end in 2003, once the cost of building the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge had been repaid. Charging continued as a way of managing the predicted 17% increase in congestion. More than 150,000 vehicles use the crossing every day. Critics say the increased charges will do little to decrease congestion, since there are few public transport nor road alternatives. The tolls themselves often add to increased congestion as motorists queue to pay the fee [BBC].

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