Tyne Tunnel bosses defend controversial barrierless scheme - saying missed payments are DOWN

Tyne Tunnel bosses have defended their controversial barrierless Tyne Pass scheme, insisting a new report shows journey numbers are up, missed payments are down, and there’s less pollution from vehicles.

The removal of barriers at the two tunnels came into operation in November 2021, replaced with an automated payment system which aimed to reduce both journey times and carbon emissions.

The report, which was carried out by Transport North East for the Tyne and Wear Sub Committee, has shown a reduction in carbon emissions by 90 per cent with a record 1.97 million journeys made through the tunnels in August 2022 – the highest ever recorded.

There were concerns the automated payment service could lead to a significant number of non payments but bosses insist the report shows this is not the case with 96.5 per cent of journeys successfully paid on time.

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South Tyneside councillor Carl Johnson, Chair of the Tyne and Wear Sub Committee, said: “I’m pleased to read the outcome of the appraisal which has examined every aspect of the new system.

“It’s encouraging to read the objectives of Tyne Pass have been achieved and the system has significantly cut carbon emissions, reduced journey times and congestion, and created over 80 new local jobs.

"The 90 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from vehicles in particular is great news for regional air quality.”

Tyne Tunnel bosses have hailed the success of the barrierless scheme.

The review has also taken onboard negative customer feedback which has led to recommendations being acted on including the set-up of a new Hardship Support scheme, which helps individuals in financial difficulties, payment notifications and improvements to the online registration and payment system.

Cllr Johnson added: “This appraisal has taken a very thorough look at the operation, and I'm pleased to see that the Tunnels operator, TT2 Limited has brought the new modern system into operation, although the payment and enforcement processes need to continue to improve.

“The roll-out of Tyne Pass is the biggest single change to the tunnels’ operation since the construction of the second tunnel in 2011, so there have of course been some bumps in the road as people adjust to the system and how to pay.

The old barriers at the Tyne Tunnel.

“We want to make it even easier for people to pay their toll in the future and will be working hard to ensure this is the case.”