Tolling will resume on the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry from 00.01 on Monday 1 June. Tolls on the two crossings were suspended on 25 March to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and protect customers and bridge and ferry staff whilst keeping the vital transport links open for key workers, emergency services and those travelling for essential reasons. At this time there were greatly reduced levels of traffic using both routes.
The combination of the reduced levels of traffic since the introduction of lockdown and the suspension of tolling have had a major impact on our financial position. The crossings are entirely self-funded from toll income and have received no financial support from central government to take account of the effects of the pandemic.
During the past two weeks the Government has gradually relaxed lockdown restrictions and started to rebuild the economy by re-opening some businesses and encouraging staff who cannot work from home to return to their work places. As a result of this, at both crossings we are now seeing over 30% more traffic than we did two weeks ago.
With further changes in lockdown restrictions due to come into force on 1 June, including the re-opening of some schools, and an expected continued increase in traffic levels, Cornwall Council and Plymouth City Council have agreed to reintroduce tolls from this date.
To enable us to resume tolling safely and secure the future of the two crossings, at the same time as continuing to protect staff and service users, we are introducing a range of new measures to mitigate against Covid-19. These are based on the latest scientific and medical guidance from the Government and Public Health England. The new procedures, developed following comprehensive risk assessments carried out by Tamar Crossings managers in all areas of the service, will support the implementation of social distancing guidance and increase cleaning and hygiene practices at both the Tamar Bridge and Torpoint Ferry.
At both crossings we encourage car occupants to keep their windows closed whilst in close proximity to our staff and other service users, particularly when on board the ferry. We are also asking TamarTag account holders to check their tags are correctly located in their vehicles and are registered to the vehicle they are using.
Those paying by cash should ensure that they have the correct money to keep personal contact with toll booth staff at the bridge or toll collectors at the ferry to an absolute minimum.
Additional processes will be in place at both crossings to enable staff to manage any issues with tags or contactless card payments, and to help those unable to pay at the collection points while maintaining social distancing guidance.
Crossing at the Tamar Bridge
To help provide safe cash handling procedures we will be introducing a contactless card payment system in some lanes at the Tamar Bridge. These lanes will be clearly signed and we would encourage as many people as possible to use this method of payment.
For those who do not use contactless cards we will be providing a range of social distancing measures to enable staff in the toll booths to safely process cash. Drivers of cars and higher vehicles such as SUVs, coaches and HGVs will be able to safely deposit their coins and notes into a cup and handle tool allowing both driver and collector to maintain a distance of more than two metres. All collectors will have mobile screens and we will also be installing additional booth side letterboxes/chutes in the side of each booth and mobile screens.
Crossing at the Torpoint Ferry
There will not be a contactless option at the ferries for 1 June. However we are working with our toll system supplier to develop a contactless solution.
To enable safe toll collection at the ferry it has been decided to conduct tolling ashore rather than in the more cramped conditions onboard the ferries where social distancing will be extremely difficult to achieve. There will be a “tolling station” set up in the road just beyond the exit from the queuing lanes in Torpoint where two Tamar Crossings staff will then collect tolls in the normal way.
Drivers released from the overhead traffic signals will be directed to the collection points where their tags will be scanned, cash can be paid or smart passes (mobility and other) presented. Drivers are strongly encouraged to remain within their vehicles and keep the windows closed at all times (including while on the ferries) unless they are paying by cash or need to speak to a collector. If paying by cash, having the correct change will make the process quicker and safer for all.
This shoreside system will operate between 6 am and 10pm. During the quieter night time period toll collections will take place on the ferries. In order to maintain social distancing the number of lanes will be reduced, with traffic directed to alternate lanes to enable collectors to walk around vehicles.
Tolling ashore at the ferry has never been done before (apart from foot passengers paying to pass through a turnstile to board the ferry many years ago) so we need to see how it will work in practice. Please be aware that there may be disruption to the schedule. Once in place we will constantly review how it is working so we can implement any changes which are required as quickly as possible.
Staff at both crossings will be following social distancing guidance and implementing robust hand hygiene procedures, including regular hand washing and use of hand sanitisers. They will also have access to appropriate levels of personal protective equipment.
Gloves will be worn by all staff in the toll booths at the bridge, with face coverings worn by staff in direct contact with drivers or other members of the public outside the booths. Toll collectors at the ferries will also be wearing gloves and face coverings.
We already have social distancing procedures and robust hygiene measures in place on the ferries for foot passengers and cyclists and would encourage everyone using the ferries to continue to follow this guidance.
Lane F (on the south side of the ferry under the canopy) has been allocated for the sole use of cyclists and motorcyclists who are asked to remain with their transport during the crossings and maintain social distancing from all other vehicles and passengers. The use of this lane means there will be a slight delay in cyclists leaving the ferry when arriving at Torpoint.
Seating has been restricted in enclosed areas, and further measures are being introduced to ensure social distancing is maintained on the seating on the upper decks. Two metre markings are being placed at key points on the ferries, with hand sanitisers available for public use. Recorded messages reminding people to follow the guidance are being broadcast during each journey.
Signs on the slipways instruct foot passengers and cyclists to wait to be called forward to board the ferry to avoid large numbers trying to access the pedestrian areas at the same time. This is being closely monitored to ensure social distancing measures are followed.
All Tamar Crossings staff are being given training in the new procedures so they can help support service users.
With traffic levels expected to rise further during the next phase of the Government’s roadmap to recovery, to help us manage this increase while implementing the new measures we will be asking all drivers to take extra precautions when using the crossings.
All drivers crossing the bridge are asked to reduce their speed to 10mph when entering the Toll Plaza lanes and to follow all overhead signals and road markings. Drivers using the ferries will also be asked to reduce their speed when approaching the shoreside collection areas and when approaching and leaving the slipways.
The Learning Centre and the public toilets at the bridge will remain closed. There are also no plans to reopen the offices at St Budeaux and Torpoint to the public at this time. Following the closure of the offices in March, customer services staff have been dealing with queries from service users or the wider public via email, the Tamar Crossings website or by phone. There are also drop boxes at both crossings for people needing to return tags. These systems have been working extremely well and we would ask people to continue to use them until the offices are re-opened.
We recognise that the introduction of these social distancing measures may cause some initial confusion and lead to delays but would ask members of the public for their patience while we all get used to the new systems.