A huge £32 million increase compared to the previous financial year
The UK Government raked in a record £92 million during the last financial year from Dartford Crossing fines, according to official accounts.
An increase in ‘enforcement’ action has pushed the total revenue made from £60 million in the previous financial year to £92 million – an increase of £32 million within a 12 month period.
According to official accounts, the total income for the Dartford Crossing was £204.5 million for the financial year 2016/17, whilst the figure for the previous financial year (2015/16) stood at £168.4 million and nearly half of all revenue was made up of ‘enforcement’ action or from fines.
The increase in revenue has been put down to “increased use of enforcement management measures introduced through the Dart Charge scheme and an increase in the number of crossings over the period” says the report – however traffic using the crossing only rose by 2.7% compared to the year before, whilst ‘enforcement’ action jumped by a massive 53%.
The actual revenue from fines would have been much higher, however £42 million’s worth were shelved for of a number of reasons, including service provider error and drivers’ vehicle keeper details not being available.
According to the report, it states that the whole cost of the bridge and the two tunnels was paid off by March 2002, yet toll fees and penalties from the new Dart Charge are expected to rake in £1.6 billion over a period of 25 years.
The Dart Charge infrastructure was introduced back in 2014 and saw an end to paying at tollbooths. Now the crossing uses ANPR cameras to identify number plates and drivers must remember to pay the charge by midnight the next day or face a fine.
If a driver fails to pay then an automatic penalty of £70 is issued which is reduced to £35 if paid within 14 days. First-time offenders however only receive a written warning instead of a fine.
Head of roads policy with the AA, Jack Cousens, commented on the fines saying: “It seems that while drivers are still getting it wrong, there is little desire to rectify the reasons why people do not pay and simply reap the fines.”
Mr Cousens added that whilst locals now understand how the new system works, those from further afield often don’t realise that a charge is payable and maybe more Payzones around the Dover ports and on services near to Dartford might help.
“In reality though, the toll should not be in place. The infrastructure was paid off years ago and we would like the Crossing to follow in the footsteps of the Severn Bridge and remove the charge altogether,” said Mr Cousens.
A spokesperson from Highways England commenting on the published accounts said: “Dart Charge has successfully removed a significant source of congestion at the Dartford Crossing and is giving drivers more flexibility about how and when they pay the Dartford Crossing road user charge.”
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