What you need to know about the new payment system coming to the Tyne Tunnel
Changes are underway at the Tyne Tunnel, with new technology on the horizon to make your journey run more smoothly.
As staff prepare to introduce automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) systems to the route, we've taken a look at how it works and what it will mean for you if you use the tunnel between North and South Tyneside.
What is ANPR?
Automatic number plate technology is a specialist system used to find a vehicle registration, which is then processed and can be stored. ANPR can be used for car park management, security, traffic management and tolling. Police forces also use it to detect criminal behaviour, such as speeding.
In the case of the tunnel, vehicle registration numbers will be read and checked against TT2's database of vehicles registered against pre-paid or exempt accounts.
Money will then be deducted from an account for each journey.
Why is it being brought in at the Tyne Tunnel?
Bosses hope the upgrade to the tunnel's tolling system will make the route more reliable, and improve journey times for those who use it.
In future, the toll booths on the north side will be removed, so a "free-flow" system can come into action, eliminating the option to pay by cash.
I have a permit for the Tyne Tunnel - what will happen to it?
The ANPR technology is expected to go live at the end of this month. In the short-term, its introduction will mean the permits, which can be topped up online or over the phone, will be phased out.
Bosses have stressed that motorists will not have to change to ANPR overnight - but many users have already been contacted by Tyne Tunnel to inform them of the upgrade.
Permit users are expected to receive information in the coming weeks about how to register their number plate for ANPR use - along with a step-by-step guide to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible.
Drivers using permits or registering for ANPR technology will use the tunnel at a reduced rate of Â£1.53 per journey. A cash payment costs Â£1.70
What if I want to pay cash?
You still can - for a little while, at least.
The first aim of ANPR is to phase out the current windscreen permits and transfer customers over to ANPR. A longer-term aim is to remove the tunnel's toll booths and create a quicker system for motorists to pass through.
I use the tunnel infrequently - how will this affect me?
You will still be able to register your vehicle online and pre-pay for your journey, securing the 10% discounted price for those with registered accounts each time you travel. Cash payments will eventually be phased out, with the barriers removed.
It is not yet known when this will happen.