Dartford crossing

Non-payment of charge hits twice expected level

The proportion of non-payers at the Dartford crossing is twice what was expected

The proportion of non-payers at the Dartford crossing is twice what was expected

Following the closure of toll booths at the Dartford Crossing and the start of the Dart Charge remote payment system, figures released today by the Highways Agency* show that the proportion of non-payers is twice what was expected.

Whereas an impact assessment of the new scheme had predicted a 7% failure-to-pay rate, non payment has run at 15% so far. That works out at 13,500 of the 90,000 users who use the crossing daily during the charging period (6am to 10pm).

The AA has demanded that the Highways Agency adopt a lenient approach to non-payers as many drivers will not do this deliberately.

Initial warning letter

We welcome the fact that during the first few weeks of operation the first penalty charge notice issued for each vehicle will include a warning letter giving the driver an extra 14 days in which to pay their original crossing charge without a penalty and with further crossings made in that vehicle also payable at the standard rate as long as payment is received within the same 14 day period.

a lack of Payzone facilities at relevant motorway service areas, Eurotunnel and Dover port is disappointing

Paul Watters, AA head of roads policy

Lack of payment facilities on key routes

“The AA welcomes the improved traffic flow and a more sensitive approach to chasing up non-payment of the charge. However, we received complaints from drivers caught up in traffic jams at roadworks during the festive period,” says Paul Watters, the AA’s head of roads policy.

“Although a higher level of non-payment may have been expected at the outset of the scheme, some of the underlining failures of the payment system remain and will have contributed to the 13,500 a day who don’t pay.

"In particular, a lack of Payzone facilities at relevant motorway service areas (Clacket Lane, Medway, Maidstone), Eurotunnel and Dover port is disappointing for outbound cross-channel drivers."

Awareness

AA-Populus research in August found that up to 10% of frequent users of the crossing, who live in London, east of the capital or in the South East, were completely unaware of the change. A further 6% were vaguely aware.