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Itchen Bridge toll machines 'are a rip off' say Southampton motorists
MOTORISTS have accused council bosses of trying to rip them off after it was revealed that automated machines replacing the toll booths on the Itchen Bridge will not issue change.
Work has already begun on installing the new machines that will take payment by either a pre-paid Smartcities travel card or change being thrown into a cash bin.
But it has been revealed that the machines that will replace five manned booths are not able to issue change if the exact money is not paid.
He said: “It is a money-making operation. Simple as that. How can you charge for a service and not give change? Of course not everyone will have the right money and they aren’t going to hold up a queue of traffic.
“On top of that they will have around 1,000 more cars using these roads from the new development in Woolston. It will be chaos if people are pressing the attendance button to get some change.”
He added he hoped the work would eventually mean an improvement to the look of the Itchen Bridge Toll Plaza.
He said: “It is an appalling gateway to the city and reminds me of crossing over into 1970s East Germany.”
Cabinet member for the environment and transport Councillor Asa Thorpe said he was not able to comment on the issue of why nonchange giving machines were installed because he had just returned from holiday.
In a council statement he said the aim was for citizens to use “21st century Smart Card technology” which would remove the need to carry change when using the bridge.
Trials and testing will begin next month during which time the booths will remain fully staffed and remain so until the end of January when the bridge will be fully automated.
According to a council spokesman, the toll booth staff who hold 20 permanent posts, will be redeployed to other roles to help drivers who have difficulties.
From midnight until 6am the site will be monitored and operated remotely by CCTV and intercom.
The new system will work by sensors recognising the type of vehicle as it approaches. The toll charges will remain the same with motorcycles travelling free and cars costing 60p at peak time and 50p off peak.
However, the vehicles will be classified according to height and some vehicles may be categorised differently under the new sensor system.
Concessions will be available through the Smartcities card system but tokens will no longer be accepted once the new system has been fully installed.
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