Following the news that the Severn Bridge is having its toll charges reduced and then scrapped altogether, we ask why are drivers still paying to use the Dartford Crossing – despite the fact it was supposed to be free by now.
Why should motorists be using the Dartford Crossing for free?
When the bridge was built, the original agreement stated tolling was supposed to stop once the costs for the bridge had been covered. This was almost fifteen years ago.
In February 1999, the government announced that motorists using the crossing wouldn’t have to pay toll charges by the end of 2003.
Hmm – so why are drivers still paying the tolls?
It’s been revealed that in 2001 the government backtracked, opting out of the initial agreement.
The AA Motoring Trust told the BBC that the government had broken its promise to scrap the toll. They said that the government had originally pledged to Parliament that toll charges would cease when the cost of the construction had been covered and a maintenance fund accumulated.
A Freedom of Information Request, regarding the continuation of the toll charges in 2009, revealed that due to traffic levels increasing faster than projected and an earlier study revealing the removal of the toll would result in an increase of traffic levels by 17 per cent on 2003 levels, the plan for removing the tolls was scrapped.
Now, the Dartford Crossing tolls rake in about £70 million a year and there’s no sign of the charges ever being axed.
How can I pay the Dartford Crossing charge?