Tyne Tunnel bosses pledge to help day-trippers avoid fines during first summer holidays of controversial new system
Tyne Tunnel bosses have pledged to help make sure day-trippers are not caught out by the controversial new payment system.
Since November last year, vehicles no longer stop to pay - cameras automatically register journeys and payment needs to be made before midnight the following day – either online, via the app, over the phone, or at a PayPoint outlet with cash or card.
However, a number of drivers have reported issues or been caught out with fines.
TT2, which runs the Tyne Tunnels, said it has launched a major public information campaign to run throughout the school holidays, to help summer day-trippers use the tunnels correctly, and avoid a fine.
Bosses say due to the pandemic, this summer may be the first time that thousands of families use the Tyne Tunnels since the crossing switched to open-road-tolling, so the operator is taking action to further boost awareness of the new system.
The five-figure communications campaign, called ‘There’s no stopping you this summer’, will run until September across a wide range of media including TV, newspapers, radio, YouTube, online, social media, outdoor digital boards, and blogs.
Chief Executive of TT2, Philip Smith, said: “Over the summer, the profile of our tunnel users changes significantly as commuting decreases over July and August and one-off users, or infrequent users of the crossing, increase.
“We want to ensure that drivers who aren’t used to using the tunnels have a stress-free time by understanding – ahead of their journeys - how to pay their toll, and when to pay it by. We are encouraging people to get a Pre-Paid account which makes paying as simple as possible, and gives them 10% off their toll.”
Taglines of the campaign include ‘Pre-pay and drive straight through’, ‘Save ten percent all Summer, with a PrePaid account’, ‘There’s no stopping you this Summer’ and ‘Pay online by midnight the day after your journey’.
It has been six months since the Tyne Tunnels switched to open-road-tolling.
Bosses say new data shows journey times are down, C02 emissions have been slashed, and the number of people paying their toll on time is rising.
A half-year review of all the statistics collected since the toll booths were removed in November 2021, shows a positive overall picture of the tunnels’ performance and that drivers have adapted well to using a cashless system.
Since open-road-tolling was launched, the tunnels have seen more than 11 million journeys made and during the first month - November 2021 - 94.6% of drivers paid their toll on time. In June, that figure has risen to a healthy 96.52%.
TT2, which operates the tunnels on behalf of the North East Combined Authority, says it is on track to achieve a compliance rate of 97% by the first anniversary of the new system being launched.
Bosses say northbound journeys are now 33 seconds faster and southbound trips, 29 seconds quicker – on average across a day.
CO₂ emissions have been reduced by 90% since open-road-tolling went live. In , the CO₂ saving equated to 2,640 return passenger flights from Newcastle, to New York.
The percentage of customers pre-paying for their journey has risen from 72% in November to over 77% last month.