8th September 2017
By Rashleigh MacFarlane
Motorists who try to cross the Tamar Bridge or use the Torpoint Ferry without paying could end up paying double.
About 30 drivers a day currently arrive at the bridge toll booth without the means to pay. They have to check in at the control room, where they are issued with an IOU note, risking an administration charge of £40 if they do not settle promptly.
But advances in technology, such as contactless cards, now make possible alternative payment methods for those without cash. And now councillors in Cornwall and Plymouth, who have responsibility for administering the charging regime, are considering what to do about motorists who simply don’t pay.
Officials are suggesting that drivers should be allowed to continue on their journey without a visit to the control room, provided they agree to pay the normal £1.50 toll plus an additional £1.50 administration charge, with the debt to be settled with 48 hours.
A report to be considered next week says: “It is recommended that an initial surcharge matching the class 2 cash toll (currently £1.50) is made in addition to the toll payable. If settlement is not made by midnight two days following the crossing, it is recommended that the surcharge is increased to £60.
“Officers request discretion for the timetable for implementation to enable trials to refine processes and to align the change of process with the move to a new control room. Despite this request for flexibility officers expect to implement the new scheme before the end of the current financial year.”
Photo: Robert Pittman
It is the goal of new systems to end the requirement for debtors to make a potentially dangerous movement across the toll plaza to visit the offices. Drivers will be provided with instructions on how to settle the debt at the toll booth and will be allowed to continue their journey immediately.
Officers add: “The reduction of immediate inconvenience requires that:
* that there is no perception that post payment crossing may be used as a matter of convenience for users;
* there are clear incentives for early settlement;
* the surcharge scheme assists the early identification of those seeking to abuse the system; and
* It supports a clearer administration process.
Councillors have been told the new system will be safer, as motorists will not have to risk a potentially risky manoeuvre across the toll plaza. It will also speed traffic flow. Officials say they accept that a small number of motorists will still try to dodge payment.