While travelling to Eastbourne yesterday evening, my Dad informed me that the price of the tolls at the QE2 bridge and the Dartford Tunnel were set to rise. And sure enough, on the electronic display before we drove over the river, the text confirmed that there would be an increase by the 15th November. Car drivers will see the charge increase from Â£1 to Â£1.50, whereas a lorry driver will find it hard not to notice the staggering rise from Â£2.90 to Â£4. You might think I sound like a tight git writing about this, but the simple fact is that it seems every small struggling business that might rely on transportÂ are being kicked while they are down at the moment as well as every general motorist. Why? Well, the credit crunch is sure to have had (and will continue to have) a negative effect on struggling firms, not to mention other factors including the Emissions Charges and possible road pricing scheme which is already being piloted.
It all adds up if you are using the tunnel or bridge everyday to commute. The AA has predicted that it will cost the average motorist an extra Â£110Â per year. There is even a facebook group which has been created in protest of the rise in charges. I use the bridge and tunnel every weekend to get home, so it will not exactly be an earth-shattering development for me, however I fail to see the valid reason for raising the toll charge. (Don't worry, of course I know really that it is just another way to increase revenue).
Congestion is a major inconvenience for everyone who uses the crossings at peak times in the day, so you might have thought that the revenue will be sensibly invested in some form of relief on the roads. But no, that would be too constructive. Instead, a new bridge or tunnelÂ on the same site are part of theÂ vast number of brilliant plans toÂ accomodate the plethora of vehicles impatiently waiting to continue their journey. Great, so while that takes five or ten years to build, the vehicles alreadyÂ waitingÂ will atleast have something to keep them occupied; the line of cars behind them slowly but surely stretch back to Stratford.
I propose a better idea (or rather my Dad did!)Â to the Department for Transport. Instead of making an already congested part of the M25 even worse during construction, why not build a bridge in a separate area, say a bridge from Canvey Island to Sheppey, linking the A130 to the A1. Furthermore, the A2/M2 and M20 would not suffer greatly as a result from a rise in motorists looking to dodge the toll.
Just an idea, but one that could relieve a great deal of the M25 gridlock, not to mention a saving in fuel.