The “free-flow” payment system at the Dartford Crossing has now been in operation for some weeks. There are no toll booths so people have to pay before or after via other means. It was estimated that the number of non-payers (who would then get issued with a fine of £35 per infringement) would be about 10% (that was based on other similar schemes in other countries). But in reality the number so far is much higher at about 15%. That’s equivalent to about 10,000 people per day who will have been issued with fines, i.e. £350,000 per day in fines or £127 million per year if that infringement rate continues.
It seems many people still are not aware of this system so the number may fall somewhat in due course. But as many users are travelling through this crossing from remote parts of the country it seems unlikely it will fall below 10%.
We strongly opposed the introduction of this system and the retention of tolls on this essential river crossing.
Although the new arrangement appears to have improved traffic flows somewhat, and may do so further when the road works are completed, it is a very unjust system where high numbers of people accidentally collect large fines. Indeed the economics of this system and the similar London congestion charge (a.k.a. tax) depend on large numbers of penalty fines being issued. This is surely unjust.
Those who have collected a fine as a result should complain to their Member of Parliament because only public pressure will cause the Government to reconsider.