England

Dartford Crossing payment system 'needs to be right'

Dartford Crossing Image copyright PA
Image caption The toll booths on the Kent side of the crossing were replaced at the end of November

The new payment system at the Dartford Crossing between Kent and Essex needs improvement and is causing problems for motorists, the government has admitted.

Dart Charge replaced toll booths six months ago, with drivers paying online.

However, figures obtained by BBC Radio Kent showed that as many as one in 10 journeys have not been paid for.

House of Commons leader Chris Grayling told MPs the scheme had "the potential to make a real difference but it needs to be got right".

He said the issue should be raised with the Secretary of State during transport questions in the Commons next Thursday.

Conservative MP for Dartford, Gareth Johnson, told him the administration of the Dart Charge had "exasperated" many of his constituents.

'Mistakes expected'

Many motorists have complained of problems when trying to pay online, with some charged double.

More than 100,000 vehicles use the crossing every day, with those not paying facing fines of up to £105.

Dart Charge project director Nigel Gray has apologised for the "unanticipated high number of problems".

"We're going to make mistakes. We want to reduce those to a minimum," he said.

"We're not complacent and we need to improve. We accept that."

Mr Gray also blamed the poor performance of the Dart Charge website on the fact that it depended on web developers in New York.

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