Newly published accounts detailing the use of, and revenue raised from, the Dartford Crossing have been published, showing an 8% rise in the number of trips in the first full year since the toll booths were replaced by a free flow charging system.
Highways England says that during 2015-16 traffic volumes increased by 7.3% during charging hours while outside of charging hours it was 13.5%, which, it adds, suggests that the charging scheme is successfully encouraging people to make journeys at less busy times.
Road user compliance averaged 92% during 2015-16 and this figure has continued to improve since, and is consistently over 93%. It adds that despite this growth in traffic volumes, since Dart Charge was introduced journey times at the Crossing have improved.
Cash receipts collected by Emovis Operations Ltd for paid crossings are passed over gross to the Department for Transport and amounted to £161.6m (2014-15: £99.8m) for the year to the end of March 2016. It says the £61.8m increase on the previous year is due to the increased use of enforcement management measures introduced through the Dart Charge scheme (£53.1m) and an increase in the number of crossings over the period.
However in the first six months of 2015-16, auditors say there were significant issues with the quality of data available to support the validity of contraventions recorded on the system. A number of contraventions present on the system were identified as invalid or doubtful, as a result of issues with the accuracy of data on both crossings and the payment information used to generate a match. This resulted in many contraventions becoming significantly aged, as a result of which no enforcement action was taken on them.