Itchen Bridge payment system takes its toll

Daily Echo: PROBLEMS: A toll booth at the Itchen Bridge. PROBLEMS: A toll booth at the Itchen Bridge.

IT has become one of the most controversial transport schemes ever introduced in Southampton.

The new automated toll system on the city’s Itchen Bridge was slammed by motorists before it was even in place, after council bosses revealed the machines would not issue change.

Complaints then flooded in from owners of larger vehicles and motorhomes, after the new height-based tariff system left them facing increased charges of up to £25 to cross the bridge.

And earlier this month the Daily Echo revealed transport chiefs had removed the automated barriers after they caused traffic chaos and crashed down on four vehicles, including a motorbike.

Now council bosses have admitted there are already plans to overhaul the machines because of difficulties for some people using the new smartcities card payment system, which has been dubbed “a complete shambles” by angry motorists.

Special readers have been installed on the automated payment units, allowing drivers to touch their pre-paid card on the sensor.

But after receiving complaints they were too high, council officials have already tried to lower the readers.

However, they are now planning a more radical overhaul next week because they haven’t been effective enough.

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The cards are the only way disabled drivers will be able to continue to cross the bridge for free once toll booths become fully automated next month.

Sarah Norris, from St Anne’s Road, Woolston, said she had repeatedly been unable to use the reader.

She said: “It appears you need to be six feet tall or own a van or lorry so you can reach.

“What a complete shambles, yet again.”

Geoff Wilkinson, a founder of Southampton’s Shopmobility and member of Southampton Action for Access, said problems with the positioning of the reader could have easily been avoided.

Mr Wilkinson, from Bitterne, said: “If they had done an equality assessment this would have been picked up.

“Had we been kept on board when they purchased that machinery we could have highlighted that problem.

“Think of the thousands of pounds it must have cost.”

A council spokesman admitted there were problems for motorists, but said there had been an incorrect assumption the Spanish-made machines would be the correct height.

He said: “It’s a European standard height, but in Southampton we’ve rightly got a stronger commitment to put in a system that’s fit for purpose for everybody, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The spokesman said work to change the machines should be completed within a fortnight, but engineers must ensure readers aren’t placed too low for larger cars and vans.

He said: “We will do a modification for the proximity card reader which will involve putting a unit on the front of the machine to bring it out by five inches, and then lower it all by four inches.

“It’s still under warranty because it’s a new system, and there should be no cost to the council.”

Comments (33)

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10:52am Wed 30 Jan 13

sotonboy84 says...

So will this work on the machines include re-programming them to give change? The machines can be programmed to give change or not and it was SCC that decided they would not give change.
So will this work on the machines include re-programming them to give change? The machines can be programmed to give change or not and it was SCC that decided they would not give change. sotonboy84

10:53am Wed 30 Jan 13

SPIKEISLANDTRADER says...

Typical council **** up , and yet more cost s to Southampton residents who use the bridge regular . So much for PROGRESS from the old floating bridge days !! This is just another CUT , but Southampton city still rake in a nice profit . Boycott the bridge and its new crazy automation system.
Typical council **** up , and yet more cost s to Southampton residents who use the bridge regular . So much for PROGRESS from the old floating bridge days !! This is just another CUT , but Southampton city still rake in a nice profit . Boycott the bridge and its new crazy automation system. SPIKEISLANDTRADER

10:58am Wed 30 Jan 13

jade25 says...

More people of of work!
More people of of work! jade25

11:12am Wed 30 Jan 13

chapelsaint says...

jade25 wrote:
More people of of work!
??
[quote][p][bold]jade25[/bold] wrote: More people of of work![/p][/quote]?? chapelsaint

11:15am Wed 30 Jan 13

jade25 says...

I meant more people out of work!!
I meant more people out of work!! jade25

11:18am Wed 30 Jan 13

Outside of the Box says...

Seems like a right royal b@lls up

Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?
Seems like a right royal b@lls up Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one? Outside of the Box

11:22am Wed 30 Jan 13

Lone Ranger. says...

Outside of the Box wrote:
Seems like a right royal b@lls up

Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?
Is that a retorical question ?
[quote][p][bold]Outside of the Box[/bold] wrote: Seems like a right royal b@lls up Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?[/p][/quote]Is that a retorical question ? Lone Ranger.

11:57am Wed 30 Jan 13

bazzeroz says...

And still no mention of how much this 'system' cost. I have use the Smartcity card and thought how easy it would be to accidentally drop it into the coin chute! Makes you laugh though. We're in the EU and all the continental road tolls give change and work fine. Muppets!
And still no mention of how much this 'system' cost. I have use the Smartcity card and thought how easy it would be to accidentally drop it into the coin chute! Makes you laugh though. We're in the EU and all the continental road tolls give change and work fine. Muppets! bazzeroz

11:59am Wed 30 Jan 13

CharlieOxbridge says...

chapelsaint wrote:
jade25 wrote: More people of of work!
??
Why more people out of work?Somebody would have had to design those machines, build them, install them, they will need to be serviced and the money will have to be collected. Sounds like it has actually created more jobs!
[quote][p][bold]chapelsaint[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]jade25[/bold] wrote: More people of of work![/p][/quote]??[/p][/quote]Why more people out of work?Somebody would have had to design those machines, build them, install them, they will need to be serviced and the money will have to be collected. Sounds like it has actually created more jobs! CharlieOxbridge

12:08pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Maine Lobster says...

Genuine concerns were raised in the lead in time to the automation of Itchen Bridge, pursued by the Royston Smith administration but they didn't listen, as usual and have ended up with chaos. Bring back the toll collectors. Simple, more effective and ultimately cheaper.
Genuine concerns were raised in the lead in time to the automation of Itchen Bridge, pursued by the Royston Smith administration but they didn't listen, as usual and have ended up with chaos. Bring back the toll collectors. Simple, more effective and ultimately cheaper. Maine Lobster

12:18pm Wed 30 Jan 13

bigfella777 says...

What's to stop people going out and deliberately time wasting at the machines and causing a tail back?
At the moment they have people in the booths, if you try to give them the toll and you haven't got change they tell you to drive forward and use the machine, if you have the right change the person in the booth will take the toll, it's a disgrace and it's making everyone angry.
What's to stop people going out and deliberately time wasting at the machines and causing a tail back? At the moment they have people in the booths, if you try to give them the toll and you haven't got change they tell you to drive forward and use the machine, if you have the right change the person in the booth will take the toll, it's a disgrace and it's making everyone angry. bigfella777

12:18pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Lockssmart says...

I'm itchen to get a go at the toll booth
I'm itchen to get a go at the toll booth Lockssmart

12:20pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Outside of the Box says...

Lone Ranger. wrote:
Outside of the Box wrote:
Seems like a right royal b@lls up

Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?
Is that a retorical question ?
No,,,,I just thought it was the last one
[quote][p][bold]Lone Ranger.[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Outside of the Box[/bold] wrote: Seems like a right royal b@lls up Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?[/p][/quote]Is that a retorical question ?[/p][/quote]No,,,,I just thought it was the last one Outside of the Box

12:22pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Taskforce 141 says...

bigfella777 wrote:
What's to stop people going out and deliberately time wasting at the machines and causing a tail back?
At the moment they have people in the booths, if you try to give them the toll and you haven't got change they tell you to drive forward and use the machine, if you have the right change the person in the booth will take the toll, it's a disgrace and it's making everyone angry.
I for one will be if by chance I do not have the correct change. Often i nip out and may need to cross the bridge and if i get to the toll and it isn't, manned and i don't have the right change, then i apologise to you all in advance, but I'm going to make it perfectly clear that machines cannot replace people...
[quote][p][bold]bigfella777[/bold] wrote: What's to stop people going out and deliberately time wasting at the machines and causing a tail back? At the moment they have people in the booths, if you try to give them the toll and you haven't got change they tell you to drive forward and use the machine, if you have the right change the person in the booth will take the toll, it's a disgrace and it's making everyone angry.[/p][/quote]I for one will be if by chance I do not have the correct change. Often i nip out and may need to cross the bridge and if i get to the toll and it isn't, manned and i don't have the right change, then i apologise to you all in advance, but I'm going to make it perfectly clear that machines cannot replace people... Taskforce 141

12:26pm Wed 30 Jan 13

bigfella777 says...

Also what happens if you are a tourist in a left hand drive vehicle???
Also what happens if you are a tourist in a left hand drive vehicle??? bigfella777

12:32pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Lone Ranger. says...

Outside of the Box wrote:
Lone Ranger. wrote:
Outside of the Box wrote:
Seems like a right royal b@lls up

Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?
Is that a retorical question ?
No,,,,I just thought it was the last one
Yes it was Smith & Co ...... Another successful legacy
[quote][p][bold]Outside of the Box[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Lone Ranger.[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Outside of the Box[/bold] wrote: Seems like a right royal b@lls up Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?[/p][/quote]Is that a retorical question ?[/p][/quote]No,,,,I just thought it was the last one[/p][/quote]Yes it was Smith & Co ...... Another successful legacy Lone Ranger.

12:51pm Wed 30 Jan 13

soton9 says...

This system is a nightmare, the time it takes to get through the booths has doubled! Waste of money.
This system is a nightmare, the time it takes to get through the booths has doubled! Waste of money. soton9

1:30pm Wed 30 Jan 13

heyhoo says...

All I can say about this is ... you drive so you don't have to waste time waiting on public transport as well as for your independence ... but councils and the government suck you dry at every corner by charging us to park, use a bridge, road tax among other things and I am sure if it was an easy decision a lot of people would give up driving ... Nothing will change of course though as we will just have to keep digging into our pockets so we won't get fined :(
All I can say about this is ... you drive so you don't have to waste time waiting on public transport as well as for your independence ... but councils and the government suck you dry at every corner by charging us to park, use a bridge, road tax among other things and I am sure if it was an easy decision a lot of people would give up driving ... Nothing will change of course though as we will just have to keep digging into our pockets so we won't get fined :( heyhoo

1:31pm Wed 30 Jan 13

sass says...

Remove the discriminatory tolls from Woolston bridge NOW. No other area of the city has a toll. This is a total disgrace! Rise up sheople.
Remove the discriminatory tolls from Woolston bridge NOW. No other area of the city has a toll. This is a total disgrace! Rise up sheople. sass

1:50pm Wed 30 Jan 13

CarlyKin says...

I use the bridge twice a day in morning and in the evening - in rush hour - have done for many years. This new system has doubled if not tripled the time it takes. The traffic backs up nearly the length of Portsmouth Road to Shell Garage and other routes such as Radcliffe Road etc are also clogged up. Am not looking forward to them being fully automated as believe will take even longer. Also feel sorry for the lovely people who work in the booth that are always friendly and have lost their jobs over this stupid and ridiculous idea! Bad enough it doesn't give change but also cannot use 1p, 2p and 5p. It is an absolute joke and should be taken away completely. The bridge was fine the way it was although do agree don't see why it should still be a toll bridge bearing in mind whole point of charging was to pay for the cost of making the bridge and no doubt that has been paid loads of times over!
I use the bridge twice a day in morning and in the evening - in rush hour - have done for many years. This new system has doubled if not tripled the time it takes. The traffic backs up nearly the length of Portsmouth Road to Shell Garage and other routes such as Radcliffe Road etc are also clogged up. Am not looking forward to them being fully automated as believe will take even longer. Also feel sorry for the lovely people who work in the booth that are always friendly and have lost their jobs over this stupid and ridiculous idea! Bad enough it doesn't give change but also cannot use 1p, 2p and 5p. It is an absolute joke and should be taken away completely. The bridge was fine the way it was although do agree don't see why it should still be a toll bridge bearing in mind whole point of charging was to pay for the cost of making the bridge and no doubt that has been paid loads of times over! CarlyKin

4:24pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Linesman says...

jade25 wrote:
I meant more people out of work!!
I think that is what Royston Smith meant as well.
[quote][p][bold]jade25[/bold] wrote: I meant more people out of work!![/p][/quote]I think that is what Royston Smith meant as well. Linesman

4:25pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Linesman says...

Lockssmart wrote:
I'm itchen to get a go at the toll booth
Why? Do you want to be a Test case?
[quote][p][bold]Lockssmart[/bold] wrote: I'm itchen to get a go at the toll booth[/p][/quote]Why? Do you want to be a Test case? Linesman

4:32pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Linesman says...

bigfella777 wrote:
Also what happens if you are a tourist in a left hand drive vehicle???
I imagine that you would first stop your car.

Open your door.

Get out of the car.

Walk round the car, after deciding whether to walk round the front of it or the back.

Check whether you have Sterling, or whether it takes the Euro.

Insert correct amount into receptical.

Retrace steps back to car.

Enter Car

Start engine.

Drive off.

Alternatively, if they have a passenger, they could ask them, either in English or the appropriate language, to open their window and insert cash.

Damned difficult for foreigners, who have toll booths in their country, but situated conveniently for Left Hand Drive vehicles.
[quote][p][bold]bigfella777[/bold] wrote: Also what happens if you are a tourist in a left hand drive vehicle???[/p][/quote]I imagine that you would first stop your car. Open your door. Get out of the car. Walk round the car, after deciding whether to walk round the front of it or the back. Check whether you have Sterling, or whether it takes the Euro. Insert correct amount into receptical. Retrace steps back to car. Enter Car Start engine. Drive off. Alternatively, if they have a passenger, they could ask them, either in English or the appropriate language, to open their window and insert cash. Damned difficult for foreigners, who have toll booths in their country, but situated conveniently for Left Hand Drive vehicles. Linesman

4:55pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Outside of the Box says...

Lone Ranger. wrote:
Outside of the Box wrote:
Lone Ranger. wrote:
Outside of the Box wrote:
Seems like a right royal b@lls up

Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?
Is that a retorical question ?
No,,,,I just thought it was the last one
Yes it was Smith & Co ...... Another successful legacy
Maybe it was a little retorical,,,,so the Tory supporters can't blame Labour
[quote][p][bold]Lone Ranger.[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Outside of the Box[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Lone Ranger.[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Outside of the Box[/bold] wrote: Seems like a right royal b@lls up Which administration decided to have these things installed,,, this one or the last one?[/p][/quote]Is that a retorical question ?[/p][/quote]No,,,,I just thought it was the last one[/p][/quote]Yes it was Smith & Co ...... Another successful legacy[/p][/quote]Maybe it was a little retorical,,,,so the Tory supporters can't blame Labour Outside of the Box

6:06pm Wed 30 Jan 13

IronLady2010 says...

Drive around and don't use it if it bothers people so much.

No-one is saying you have to use the toll bridge.
Drive around and don't use it if it bothers people so much. No-one is saying you have to use the toll bridge. IronLady2010

6:24pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Lockssmart says...

Linesman wrote:
Lockssmart wrote:
I'm itchen to get a go at the toll booth
Why? Do you want to be a Test case?
There goes another rib!
[quote][p][bold]Linesman[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Lockssmart[/bold] wrote: I'm itchen to get a go at the toll booth[/p][/quote]Why? Do you want to be a Test case?[/p][/quote]There goes another rib! Lockssmart

6:35pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Geo2411 says...

bigfella777 wrote:
Also what happens if you are a tourist in a left hand drive vehicle???
Some of the toll lanes have a machine on the left as well as the right. Not sure if they're working or not though.
[quote][p][bold]bigfella777[/bold] wrote: Also what happens if you are a tourist in a left hand drive vehicle???[/p][/quote]Some of the toll lanes have a machine on the left as well as the right. Not sure if they're working or not though. Geo2411

7:30pm Wed 30 Jan 13

Stephen56 says...

Other problems that I have noted while using the bridge since the automated system was added.
On cold frosty mornings it is not unusual for door windows to freeze in the runners making them inoperable this has resulted in drivers unable to open the door enough to make a payment because they have to stop so close to the terminal presently I have seen the operators leave the booth to collect payment what will happen when they have gone?
My daughter who lives under the bridge has noted more soot on her washing and windows due to the higher proportion of stationary traffic building up on the bridge,
I have suggested to her that a air quality check by the Environment Agency might be a good idea.
Other problems that I have noted while using the bridge since the automated system was added. On cold frosty mornings it is not unusual for door windows to freeze in the runners making them inoperable this has resulted in drivers unable to open the door enough to make a payment because they have to stop so close to the terminal presently I have seen the operators leave the booth to collect payment what will happen when they have gone? My daughter who lives under the bridge has noted more soot on her washing and windows due to the higher proportion of stationary traffic building up on the bridge, I have suggested to her that a air quality check by the Environment Agency might be a good idea. Stephen56

7:38pm Wed 30 Jan 13

IronLady2010 says...

Stephen56 wrote:
Other problems that I have noted while using the bridge since the automated system was added.
On cold frosty mornings it is not unusual for door windows to freeze in the runners making them inoperable this has resulted in drivers unable to open the door enough to make a payment because they have to stop so close to the terminal presently I have seen the operators leave the booth to collect payment what will happen when they have gone?
My daughter who lives under the bridge has noted more soot on her washing and windows due to the higher proportion of stationary traffic building up on the bridge,
I have suggested to her that a air quality check by the Environment Agency might be a good idea.
More soot on her washing, has she been hanging it outside in the rain and snow?
[quote][p][bold]Stephen56[/bold] wrote: Other problems that I have noted while using the bridge since the automated system was added. On cold frosty mornings it is not unusual for door windows to freeze in the runners making them inoperable this has resulted in drivers unable to open the door enough to make a payment because they have to stop so close to the terminal presently I have seen the operators leave the booth to collect payment what will happen when they have gone? My daughter who lives under the bridge has noted more soot on her washing and windows due to the higher proportion of stationary traffic building up on the bridge, I have suggested to her that a air quality check by the Environment Agency might be a good idea.[/p][/quote]More soot on her washing, has she been hanging it outside in the rain and snow? IronLady2010

9:02pm Wed 30 Jan 13

huckit P says...

What a loa of Luddites you lot are. Toll booths are in operation throughout this country and around the world. Have you ever used the M6 Toll? Does it give change or do you see any major issues? NO. That is because people know they are going to use a toll road and have the appropriate amount of money available, the correct smart card or a credit card (it has more toll booths than the Itchen Bridge). If you don't like the automatic toll booths you can always use Northam Bridge.
What a loa of Luddites you lot are. Toll booths are in operation throughout this country and around the world. Have you ever used the M6 Toll? Does it give change or do you see any major issues? NO. That is because people know they are going to use a toll road and have the appropriate amount of money available, the correct smart card or a credit card (it has more toll booths than the Itchen Bridge). If you don't like the automatic toll booths you can always use Northam Bridge. huckit P

6:41am Thu 31 Jan 13

peachy1 says...

This is actually disgusting we shouldn't have to be paying to go over the bridge it should've been FOC after 10 YEARS which is what they said when they built it .

The sad fact is that the itchen bridge funds bail out the council year after year to the point that they now rely on the money

Disgusting
This is actually disgusting we shouldn't have to be paying to go over the bridge it should've been FOC after 10 YEARS which is what they said when they built it . The sad fact is that the itchen bridge funds bail out the council year after year to the point that they now rely on the money Disgusting peachy1

11:40am Thu 31 Jan 13

boilerman says...

Can some one please explain why disabled drivers get to use the bridge for free.
Does this discriminate against able bodied drivers.
Please define disabled.
I am all for Disabled people being given the help they need and deserve, but the system is so abused law abiding hard working decent people are having to compensate for fraudsters.
Can some one please explain why disabled drivers get to use the bridge for free. Does this discriminate against able bodied drivers. Please define disabled. I am all for Disabled people being given the help they need and deserve, but the system is so abused law abiding hard working decent people are having to compensate for fraudsters. boilerman

12:33pm Thu 31 Jan 13

Vonnie says...

boilerman wrote:
Can some one please explain why disabled drivers get to use the bridge for free. Does this discriminate against able bodied drivers. Please define disabled. I am all for Disabled people being given the help they need and deserve, but the system is so abused law abiding hard working decent people are having to compensate for fraudsters.
Please explain your proofs for this kind of statement.
[quote][p][bold]boilerman[/bold] wrote: Can some one please explain why disabled drivers get to use the bridge for free. Does this discriminate against able bodied drivers. Please define disabled. I am all for Disabled people being given the help they need and deserve, but the system is so abused law abiding hard working decent people are having to compensate for fraudsters.[/p][/quote]Please explain your proofs for this kind of statement. Vonnie

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