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BIG CHANGE: 75% of Tyne Tunnel users ready for cashless payments

BIG CHANGE: 75% of Tyne Tunnel users ready for cashless payments

A giant electronic advertising screen at the northside entrance to the Tyne Tunnel in North Tyneside, Image: NCJ Media

Three quarters of Tyne Tunnel users are already registered for cashless payments ahead of a massive change to the busy crossing, a transport boss has revealed.

From Monday, November 8, vehicles will simply drive straight through the tunnels without stopping to pay at the toll booths on their north side, with barriers and traffic lights gone and cameras installed to automatically register journeys instead.

Motorists will either have to pay their fee via a pre-paid account with tunnel operator TT2 or do so before midnight the day after their journey using an online pay later service, an automated telephone line, or at PayPoint tills found in shops.

Once the new ‘Tyne Pass’ system comes into force, there will be no way of paying a toll in cash or with a contactless bank card at the tunnel itself, with all of the existing toll plazas to be demolished over the coming months.

At Thursday’s meeting of the Joint Transport Committee Fiona Bootle, Tyne Tunnel manager for Transport North East, said that 75% of users had adopted cashless payments.

She said: “There’s been a lot of work on signage so that its really clear that people who aren’t aware how they can pay and the fact that they still need to pay even though they won’t be stopped at any barriers.

“T.V, radio adverts and billboards have been in place.

“The reason we’re saying its a successful campaign is not just because of the number of people its reached but the results.

“The main one is that pre-paid usage has increased significantly.

“In the last four years under 50% in 2018, going up to 55%, 60% and 63% in September of this year and that has jumped in the last month to up to 75%.

“The promotion of the pre-paid accounts has really worked through this marketing campaign which is really good news because that shows many users as possible will be using a pre-paid account when it goes live on Monday.”

The switch is the biggest change that motorists will have experienced at the busy crossing since the second tunnel was opened in 2011.

Bosses have promised that people will experience faster journeys as nobody will have to stop at a toll booth, claiming it will save 1,944 hours a week in queuing time, and a colossal 90% reduction in CO2 emissions around the tunnel thanks to traffic no longer being brought to a standstill.

However, there have been worries raised by some users over how people without access to the internet will cope with the new payment requirements.

There have also been many complaints since the tunnels first introduced a ‘pay later’ ticket option last year, which has seen drivers hit with heavy fines if they are unable to pay their toll by midnight the next day.

 

Words: Herbert Soden, Local Democracy Reporter


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