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Dart Charge marks fifth anniversary at Dartford Crossing

Question: What is a Ford Fiesta driver more likely to be doing between 7am and 8am on a Wednesday than another motorist?

Answer: Driving across the Dartford Crossing.

KMTV speaking to residents about the Dart Charge

A Freedom of Information request submitted by KentOnline to mark five years of the Dart Charge, has revealed some interesting facts.

For one, did you know the UK’s busiest river crossing has collected more than £700m since it did away with the tolling booths in favour of cameras in November 2014?

In this time, there has been more than 235 million journeys between Kent and Essex using the QEII Bridge and tunnels - raking in at least £219m in profit.

Nearly £80m of this was generated in the busiest year to date - April 2017 to March 2018.

Of the £700m income, at least £272m has come from fines.

Dart Charge facts and figures
Dart Charge facts and figures

But that said, £62.6m of tickets have been written off while a further £51m is still being pursued.

Fridays are the busiest day while August is the most popular month.

Based on the average number of crossings made between January 1 this year and September 30, 7am to 8am on Wednesday is the most active time of the week.

Mercedes Sprinters are the most common van making the journey, while Ford Fiestas are the most frequent cars.

All profits collected from the scheme go back to the Department for Transport, which then re-distributes funds via transport projects.

This comes despite a pledge to end the charge when the debt for the construction of the bridge was repaid 17 years ago.

More than one and a half billion journeys have been made across the Dartford Crossing since it opened in 1963
More than one and a half billion journeys have been made across the Dartford Crossing since it opened in 1963

The crossing was originally designed to carry up to 135,000 vehicles a day but in reality it regularly carries more than 180,000.

Last month, the government outlined its intentions for the fee to "remain in force indefinitely".

Cars must pay £2.50 for each journey, either online, over the phone or via a pay as you go service. Larger vehicles pay up to £6 per crossing.

Those who forget to pay before midnight the day after crossing can face fines of up to £108.

More than 13 million penalty charge notices were issued between November 30, 2014, and September 30 this year.

And more than 150,000 foreign-registered lorries evaded paying for the Dart Charge between 2017 and 2018.

A toll station at the crossing prior to their removal five years ago
A toll station at the crossing prior to their removal five years ago

In comparison, there were 87,215 UK-based HGVs who failed to pay the charge.

French company Emovis has operated the crossing since 2013, but its £367 million, seven-year contract expires next year.

A "second generation free-flow charging service solution" is expected to be in place within 18 months of the new contract start date.

If built, the £6.8 billion Lower Thames Crossing tunnel from Essex to Gravesend could help remove 14 million vehicles from the Dartford Crossing.

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