As the Highways Agency (HA) has announced the details of Dart Charge today, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has called for priority to be given to commercial fleet registrations.
FTA was responding to the details the HA’s published outlining how the way drivers pay to sue the Dartford Crossing will change on 30 November 2014. The new ‘free-flow’ system will allow drivers to pay the Crossing charge either using a pay-as-you-go service, or the pre-pay Dart Charge account – said to save users up to a third on every crossing, for which registration will commence today.
Malcolm Bingham, FTA’s Head of Road Network Management Policy said:
“Whilst FTA regards the introduction of the Dart Charge registration as good news for users of the Dartford Crossing, we also recognise that this has come at a difficult time for the freight and logistics industry – being the busiest time of year in the run-up to Christmas. We will therefore, be looking for priority for commercial fleet registration as the system goes live today. We will of course be encouraging our members to benefit from the discounts available to them through this system.”
FTA is in support of the introduction of ‘free-flow ’tolls at the Dartford River Crossing which after a delay is now scheduled to take place on 30 November 2014. On behalf of its members, the Association stated that freight operators have always maintained that the toll plazas themselves cause the majority of the congestion at the crossing. According to FTA figures, at present it already costs an estimated £1 per minute per HGV in running costs to queue at the Dartford tolls.
The ‘free-flow’ technology will allow motorists to use the crossing without having to stop at barriers to hand over payment, and instead they will be able to pay through a variety of methods including telephone, text message, online and at retail outlets, giving drivers greater flexibility in how and when they pay the charge.
Mr Bingham added:
“The free-flow technology at Dartford can-not come soon enough for the freight industry. On behalf of our members FTA has long been asking for this system to be introduced as this is the appropriate way forward in order to reduce a good deal of administration costs for the freight industry in dealing with tolls, charges and queues at the crossing.”