One million vehicles are now registered to Dart Charge accounts with journey times significantly quicker according to new data released today by the Highways Agency.
Dart Charge, which is designed to speed up journey times at one of the UK’s busiest transport gateways, now allows drivers to use the crossing without having to pay the charge at a barrier. Early data suggests drivers are already experiencing significant improvements, with average journey times between 7am and 7pm cut by more than 9 minutes southbound, and more than 4 minutes northbound when comparing the first two weeks of December and the end of November.
Whether registered with a Dart Charge account or paying for individual crossings the vast majority of drivers are also complying with the new system. Since Dart Charge launched on Sunday 30 November, around two million crossings have been made during the 6am-10pm chargeable period, and early indications show that to date around 85% of crossings have been paid for.
Processing of the first penalty charge notices that will be issued to drivers who have used the crossing but have not yet paid the crossing charge has now started. To give these drivers a further opportunity to pay the charge, the first penalty charge notice issued for each vehicle will include a warning letter giving the driver an extra 14 days in which to pay their original crossing charge without a penalty. In addition, any further crossings made in that vehicle can also be paid at the standard rate as long as payment is received within the same 14 day period.
Dart Charge project director Nigel Gray said:
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.
The introduction of Dart Charge has been a big change so it is great that the vast majority of drivers have paid the charge. We want to give all drivers the opportunity to pay and comply with the scheme. That’s why the first penalty charge notice issued for any vehicle for non-payment of the charge will offer the driver an extra 14 days to pay - and pay for any crossings they have made since.
This measured approach strikes the right balance between being clear to drivers they need to pay Dart Charge and giving them every opportunity to do so.
Under Dart Charge, drivers no longer pay the crossing charge in cash at a barrier. Instead, they pay online, by phone or at one of thousands of payzone retail outlets nationwide, either in advance or by midnight the day after they have used the Crossing. Payment can also be made in advance by post. The quickest and easiest way to pay Dart Charge – including paying for outstanding crossings – is online. The Dart Charge website works on almost any device, smartphone or tablet.
A new time-lapse video from the weekend that Dart Charge launched has also been released today. The high definition footage shows the first section of payment booths being removed, and traffic for the first time using the Crossing without having to stop at a barrier.
Work to remove the booths and improve the road layout will continue until spring 2015. For more detailed information about the works, including drawings of the planned road layouts, please visit www.gov.uk/highways/dartford
How to pay your Dart Charge
How can I pay the Dartford Crossing Charge?
For most drivers, the best and cheapest way to pay the Dartford Crossing Charge is to have a pre-pay account. You can set up an account:
- Online at www.gov.uk/dart-charge
- Over the phone on 0300 300 0120
- By post. You can request a registration form or download one online.
You can also make one-off payments:
- online at www.gov.uk/dart-charge
- by phone on 0300 300 0120
- by post (in advance only): Dart Charge Customer Services, PO Box 842, Leeds, LS1 9QF. You can call to request payment form or download one online.
- at one of more than 18,000 Payzone retail outlets – find your nearest find your nearest outlet at http://www.payzone.co.uk/Store-Locator
When do I need to pay the charge?
The charging hours are between 6am -10pm every day. It will still be free to use the Crossing between 10pm and 6am.
If you don’t have a Dart Charge account you will need to pay the charge in advance or by midnight the following day for every crossing you make within the charging hours (6am – 10pm).
What happens if I don’t pay?
Payment should be made by midnight on the day after your crossing. If you don’t pay by midnight the day after the crossing you will face a penalty. However, we recognise that dart Charge is a big change for drivers, so we are doing everything we can to help people understand the changes and avoid penalties. That’s why the first penalty charge notice issued for any vehicle will offer the driver an extra 14 days to pay the charge - and pay for any crossings they have made since – at the original rate.
Where can I find further information?
Further information and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at www.gov.uk/highways/dartford and everyone can subscribe to receive updates via this page.
Members of the public should contact the Highways Agency Information Line on 0300 123 5000.
Journalists should contact the Highways Agency press office on 0844 693 1448 and use the menu to speak to the most appropriate press officer.