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 £1 to £1.50, whereas a lorry driver will find it hard not to notice the staggering rise from £2.90 to £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 transport 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 £110 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 tunnel  on the same site are part of the vast number of brilliant plans to accomodate the plethora of vehicles impatiently waiting to continue their journey. Great, so while that takes five or ten years to build, the vehicles already waiting 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!) 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.

Comments

Good article Alex. To be honest I've thought for ages how shit the toll is for its prices. I had a friend whose dad who worked on the tolls and always said how unfair he thought it was to be honest.
I mean, at this rate people are going to have to go through the Blackwall Tunnel in Greenwich to dodge the QE2 and travel back round on to the M11 if they can't get through a over-priced money-spinning waste of time like the Dartford Crossing. Well, perhaps not a waste of time, but definitely over-priced. But people aren't going to do that are they? So, it is time the government looked at reviewing these ridiculous taxes imposed.

As for the Sheppey idea, it's a good one and I've thought it for years. However, I doubt people in Sheppey and round the Isle of Grain, Hoo marshland area would welcome it, neither would Canvey Island, due to wildlife habitat disruption through noise/visual pollution etc. Although, it'd solve a few problems.

Yes you are right about the wildlife habitat disruption, but more to the point:

Have you ever been to Canvey Island? Its the biggest dump this side of the pond! I wouldnt live there if you paid me to haha. Therefore a simple bridge would do them no harm really. It might even make canvey island a haven for commuters. That might be too optimistic a view though!

Yes, I've seen it and the football ground too and it is a dump haha. Definitely too optimistic to call it a haven haha. To be honest, I think that the people might complain that the bridge looks an eyesore and whether you'd get planning permission for it is debatable.

I thought the toll was only going to be in place until the cost of the tunnel was paid off. So the toll being there for so long in the first place is ridiculous, but to raise it? Typical.

Tunnel Vision