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Mersey Gateway Bridge

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scotia
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Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243581

Postby scotia » August 11th, 2019, 5:17 pm

Last week I was travelling from near Chester on the M56, planning to join the M6 North, when the Google Sat Nav redirected me on the A533 over the Mersey Gateway bridge, and thence onwards to the M6. I should mention that I am a stranger to these parts, and I didn't even know the Mersey Gateway Bridge existed. As I was coping with heavy traffic on an unfamiliar route, I was fortunate to get a quick glance of a sign that indicated that I was on a Toll bridge, so I fumbled for my wallet, but no Toll booths appeared. When I reached my destination in Cumbria, I looked up the bridge on the Internet, and discovered that there was a charge of £2, and that I could pay it online before midnight on the following day, otherwise a penalty would be imposed. Needless to say, I paid up promptly.
However this raised two points - first I could easily have missed the sign indicating that it was a Toll bridge, and would have received a penalty notice for £20. Even if I had noticed the sign, I could have been confused as to what to do next - not everyone in Internet Savvy.
Has anyone here received an unexpected £20 charge for crossing the Mersey Gateway bridge?

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243589

Postby bungeejumper » August 11th, 2019, 5:54 pm

This one?
Image
I'd have expected that the satnav would have told you about it, so as to give you the option of avoiding the charge. But yes, it's a bit rough on non-locals who don't know their way around, and who aren't even given the option of paying by contactless card at a toll booth.

I really hate having to pay parking fees, etc, by mobile phone. Payzone, which runs the Merseyside bridge, is one of the worst offenders - the last time I tried to use it, it crashed four times, which isn't exactly what you want when you're dealing with a new situation that carries a fine if you don't get it right. In the end I called the Payzone helpline and found myself talking to somebody in the United States. Who punted me toward a card payment facility and immediately hung up. It did awful things to my blood pressure, I can tell you. Ironic, since the car park in question was at a hospital. :D

Hope you get it sorted, anyway. This has been a very controversial toll scheme, by the look of it, but the courts have okayed it so there isn't much you can do.

BJ

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243590

Postby Slarti » August 11th, 2019, 5:55 pm

I too have never heard of this bridge, but it is the same system as the Dartford Crossing, but that has many, many signs warning you to cough up.

Did you know that there is an option in Google maps to avoid tolls?

Slarti

scotia
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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243596

Postby scotia » August 11th, 2019, 6:16 pm

Many thanks for the above responses - here are some further thoughts.
Firstly, the bridge has multi-lanes, and when travelling at speed with traffic on both sides, and trying to follow Sat Nav instructions, my multi tasking was a little bit stressed, but I'm glad to say that I very briefly saw the charge notice at the road side. A bold notice on an overhead gantry would have made much more sense. Then when there were no Toll booths I had to guess what to do next. Again an overhead gantry notice saying "Pay Online or by Telephone" would make sense.
It certainly would have been useful if Google Sat Nav had provided an audible statement that it was a Toll Bridge and that payment was on-line or by telephone.
I should stress - I had no objection to paying a £2 Toll, but I would be a bit annoyed if I had received a £20 charge because I had not worked out that a Toll was payable.
Maybe first offenders (i.e. first crossing, and missed payment) should get a letter requesting the £2 fee, and a caution that any further transgression would receive a penalty.

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243610

Postby bungeejumper » August 11th, 2019, 7:06 pm

AIUI, there's a separate landline phone number that you're supposed to call if you're driving a rental car or van. There must be tens of thousands of those crossing the bridge every day. They haven't really thought this through, have they?

I completely agree that a £2 charge is reasonable and acceptable. (It used to cost us nearly three times that to be allowed into Wales. :lol: ) But the least the operators can do is make it easy to pay. And that means having some kind of roadside payment system that doesn't entail buggering about with a dodgy internet/4G connection.

French motorways are increasingly going over to quickie credit card systems, which take all of fifteen seconds to complete because there are no PIN codes required. And which leave you free to travel onward, secure in the knowledge that you've been paying your way as you've gone along, and that you won't have to spend the late evening trying to work out which bridges you've crossed and which tolls you need to pay?

Frankly, this sort of system is all about the convenience of the operator instead of the motorist. We deserve better.

BJ

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243612

Postby mike » August 11th, 2019, 7:20 pm

bungeejumper wrote:AIUI, there's a separate landline phone number that you're supposed to call if you're driving a rental car or van. There must be tens of thousands of those crossing the bridge every day. They haven't really thought this through, have they?

I completely agree that a £2 charge is reasonable and acceptable. (It used to cost us nearly three times that to be allowed into Wales. :lol: ) But the least the operators can do is make it easy to pay. And that means having some kind of roadside payment system that doesn't entail buggering about with a dodgy internet/4G connection.

French motorways are increasingly going over to quickie credit card systems, which take all of fifteen seconds to complete because there are no PIN codes required. And which leave you free to travel onward, secure in the knowledge that you've been paying your way as you've gone along, and that you won't have to spend the late evening trying to work out which bridges you've crossed and which tolls you need to pay?

Frankly, this sort of system is all about the convenience of the operator instead of the motorist. We deserve better.

BJ


Totally agree with this. But this is just us talking, mainly UK residents.

Perhaps less so on this bridge, but the Dartford Crossing Bridge must have a fair few tourists from Europe who get caught by this and can't fathom out the system. European lorry drivers I would expect to be up to speed about the system, but tourists ? Or are there multi-lingual signs to help ?

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243720

Postby Slarti » August 12th, 2019, 12:13 pm

mike wrote:
bungeejumper wrote:Frankly, this sort of system is all about the convenience of the operator instead of the motorist. We deserve better.


Totally agree with this. But this is just us talking, mainly UK residents.

Perhaps less so on this bridge, but the Dartford Crossing Bridge must have a fair few tourists from Europe who get caught by this and can't fathom out the system. European lorry drivers I would expect to be up to speed about the system, but tourists ? Or are there multi-lingual signs to help ?


Certainly the Dartford crossing system has massively improved the southbound crossing, doing away with the daily queues on the bridge, by not having to stop, thought for some reason the journey through the northbound tunnels seems as bad as ever, in busy periods.

And, as far as I know, there are no multilingual signs for the crossing. Which is much the same as most European tolls.

Slarti

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243734

Postby bungeejumper » August 12th, 2019, 12:35 pm

Slarti wrote:Certainly the Dartford crossing system has massively improved the southbound crossing, doing away with the daily queues on the bridge, by not having to stop, thought for some reason the journey through the northbound tunnels seems as bad as ever, in busy periods.

And, as far as I know, there are no multilingual signs for the crossing. Which is much the same as most European tolls.

OTOH, the European toll gates are generally hard to miss, since you have to drive through them. ;)

They also have large and pretty unmistakeable icons for cards or cash, where appropriate. As far as I know, there isn't an international icon for "you have until tomorrow midnight to get online and pay your toll fee, always supposing that you can remember where you incurred it - on forfeit of a £40 default fine which we might reduce to £20 if you pay up within two weeks."

These days, locals and regular travellers in France who have passes or motorway toll accounts have the option of zipping through the télépéage lane unimpeded, while those who don't will have to spend a minute or so (usually) queuing at an automated credit card checkout. The general effect of this system is to encourage regular motorway users to get a payment account, while enabling foreigners and other travellers to pay up and then get on with enjoying their day without being given yet another thing to remember at the end of a long day's travelling.

BJ

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#243742

Postby Slarti » August 12th, 2019, 12:53 pm

bungeejumper wrote:
Slarti wrote:Certainly the Dartford crossing system has massively improved the southbound crossing, doing away with the daily queues on the bridge, by not having to stop, thought for some reason the journey through the northbound tunnels seems as bad as ever, in busy periods.

And, as far as I know, there are no multilingual signs for the crossing. Which is much the same as most European tolls.

OTOH, the European toll gates are generally hard to miss, since you have to drive through them. ;)

They also have large and pretty unmistakeable icons for cards or cash, where appropriate. As far as I know, there isn't an international icon for "you have until tomorrow midnight to get online and pay your toll fee, always supposing that you can remember where you incurred it - on forfeit of a £40 default fine which we might reduce to £20 if you pay up within two weeks."

These days, locals and regular travellers in France who have passes or motorway toll accounts have the option of zipping through the télépéage lane unimpeded, while those who don't will have to spend a minute or so (usually) queuing at an automated credit card checkout. The general effect of this system is to encourage regular motorway users to get a payment account, while enabling foreigners and other travellers to pay up and then get on with enjoying their day without being given yet another thing to remember at the end of a long day's travelling.

BJ


I still have my Dart Tag and so don't have to remember to pay and at one time there was a dedicated lane in each direction for the Dart Tags, so those who'd pay'd up front could gain a time advantage, but then regulars who hadn't paid up front realised that the cash hoppers still worked in the Dart lanes and the time advantage vanished, so they made all lanes Dart and cash, with some also having manual payment.

But even with the Dart tag we had to wait for the barriers, because they didn't trust people, probably rightly.

As for the international symbol, unlike many of us in their country, most foreign tourists speak good English.

Slarti

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#246303

Postby Gaggsy » August 22nd, 2019, 1:46 pm

I went over the Dartford crossing on my way to the Channel Tunnel on 14th July. My wife said to me as we were crossing - "you'll have to remember to pay that online later".
Of course, many hundreds of miles later, including French toll roads, unfamiliar towns, having to find and get into a foreign Airbnb, finding somewhere to eat, limited wifi, etc, etc, I forgot.
By the time I remembered and logged in to Dart Charge, the payment window had expired, it was too late to pay and it seemed I'd have to wait for the penalty notice to arrive before I could do anything about it. I decided to set up an online account with them so that I wouldn't get caught out next time I crossed (probably in about 3 years time).

It's now 22nd August and I've received no penalty notices. Have I got away with it? Did I pay in advance 3 years ago the last time I crossed? I've no idea but I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I agree, it's probably very convenient for regular users, but for one-off users it's a PITA.

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#247221

Postby dealtn » August 27th, 2019, 11:42 am

You will, in all likelihood, get a chance to pay the charge, and not be fined, as a "first time offender" (assuming it turns up anyway).

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#247260

Postby JohnB » August 27th, 2019, 2:25 pm

I do wish all these systems handled the casual and foreign user. A single manned tollbooth for the edge cases, even if it charged a premium, seems preferable to navigating foreign language sites from a hotel room.

The Dart Charge IT system is badly designed, sending pointless emails, not notifying of zero balances and insisting on £10 minimum top-ups, they must get a lot of long term cash balances, so perhaps that's part of their evil plan. Perhaps their penalty system is also badly designed, so you escaped.

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#247314

Postby Gaggsy » August 27th, 2019, 5:11 pm

JohnB wrote:The Dart Charge IT system is badly designed... insisting on £10 minimum top-ups

As I understood it, you could pay for a certain number of crossing in advance (10?) and get a discount, or just pay as you go with no discount using a pre-registered debit/credit card. Knowing my luck, my credit card will have expired before I use the crossing again. ;)

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Re: Mersey Gateway Bridge

#247320

Postby Slarti » August 27th, 2019, 5:35 pm

Gaggsy wrote:
JohnB wrote:The Dart Charge IT system is badly designed... insisting on £10 minimum top-ups

As I understood it, you could pay for a certain number of crossing in advance (10?) and get a discount, or just pay as you go with no discount using a pre-registered debit/credit card. Knowing my luck, my credit card will have expired before I use the crossing again. ;)


You pay a lump of money up front to get the discount. £10 or more in steps of £5 (or it used to be)

I am thinking of asking for my balance back after an upcoming trip to Gatwick as after that I have no plans to drive that way in the foreseeable future.

Slarti


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