Dartford To Lose The Payment Booths

Thursday, 12. June 2014

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If you are one of those that use the Dartford Tunnel/Bridge you will know that either side of the Thames can get a tad congested from time to time. This is annoying and can cause a wait of anything up to half an hour (my experience) but you know when the congestion is likely to occur so you try to avoid those times.

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Foreigners and truck drivers don’t seem to know these times so if you find yourself in one of these tailbacks or even whilst cruising at reasonable speed towards the toll booths you can find yourself flapping whilst trying to dig your change out of your pocket ready to throw into the bin located at the toll.

This isn’t helped when you have a juggernaut on one side of you and a foreign driver on the other side, all doing the same. But amazingly very few run into each other and the delays, as far as I’m concerned are minimal.

However, they could do one thing that would speed things along and that is to take those who have pay as you go Dart Tags fitted to their vehicles that enables them to simply drive through the toll without stopping to have a type of bus lane (Dart Tag Lane) reserved for them, about 2 miles before the crossing.

To segregate at the last minute, as happens at the moment) means that these people are sitting way back in the queue, adding to the congestion whilst the Dart Tag booths sit mainly unused until the Dart drivers peel off. Now that to me would be an excellent solution. Not so according to the Highways Agency who will be removing the booths from October 2014.

The booths will be replaced by a remote system similar to the congestion charge. As with the congestion charge anyone not paying the fee will receive a penalty charge. But the good news is that you can pay online, by text, at shops and by phone. A pre-pay option will also be available which, according to the Highways Agency, will save users up to a third of the fee.

Hmmm, this all sounds good if you are a regular user but it seems to me that instead of fumbling in your pocket for a few coins drivers will be busy calling and texting whilst driving or stopping short of the tunnel/bridge in order to prevent a penalty charge. I think we have some interesting times ahead on the M25! Or again, is it just me? By Graham Hill

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