300k Dartford Crossings unpaid since Dart Charge introduction
06 January 2015
Author: Daniel Puddicombe
Around 300,000 Dartford crossings have not been paid for since the introduction of the controversial Dart Charge payment scheme at the end of November.
This is according to figures from the Highways Agency (which is to be renamed 'Highways England' from April), which said processing of the first penalty charges has now started.
Currently, the penalty charge stands at £70 for each crossing if paid within 28 days, which drops to £35 within 14 days. If unpaid after 28 days, the fine jumps up to £105, plus the crossing charge.
However, the Highways Agency said the first penalty charge notice issued will offer the driver an extra 14 days to allow the driver to pay the penalty at the lower (£35) rate, as the HA "recognises the Dart Charge is a big change for drivers."
A HA spokesman told BusinessCar fines have been held until now "to give drivers more leeway and time to pay the penalty fares."
The HA said average journey times have been cut by more than nine minutes southbound and more than four minutes northbound since the introduction of the payment system. So far, more than a million vehicles have been registered for Dart Charge accounts.
The Dart Charge system uses automatic number plate recognition technology to pick up vehicle number plates and then administer a charge to that vehicle.
Motorists can pay from a pre-paid online account linked to their car's number plate, or online, by phone, text or at a Payzone shop after they have driven through the crossing.
The time limit for paying after a journey is set at midnight on the day after travel. Drivers will be fined if the fare is unpaid.
"Dart Charge is off to a fantastic start, and I'm really encouraged that more than a million vehicles have been registered for accounts. Traffic flow is going well too - there has been a real improvement in journeys - especially southbound where drivers no longer have to stop at a barrier at all," said Nigel Gray, Dart Charge project director.