In January the toll charge for driving a car along College Road doubled from 50p to £1. We asked the Dulwich Estate for an explanation for this increase.
The Estate says that the tollbooth and equipment had been installed in 1993. This in turn had replaced the original Tollgate which had been in operation since 1789. The equipment had become (as was apparent to most users) redundant and beyond repair. The tollgate cards had to be inserted into card readers and this was a very laborious process; the coin machines were also slow to raise the barrier.
The new equipment is designed to be more user-friendly and to operate more efficiently, avoiding the queues at the Tollgate. Those with tags (see below) will enjoy a much speedier passage through the barriers. The operation of the Tollgate is now recorded on CCTV and this is to enhance safety of those using the Tollgate and the Tollgate keepers. The main purpose of the Tollgate is to restrict the volume of traffic using the Estate's private section of College Road. It is generally accepted that residents living within the vicinity welcome this. The Estate did investigate the possibility of charging motorcyclists but this proved unfeasible.
After a few initial teething troubles (including a barrier arm being knocked off by a driver of an unlicensed 'disabled' buggy, whose driver promptly leapt off the machine to inspect the damage done!), the Estate is pleased with the performance of the new equipment. The final phase of the physical works will be to improve the access for cyclists travelling north through the Tollgate.
For non-pass holders the new standard toll is £1 per single journey through the tollgate. The toll has been fixed at 50p since 1993 and the new charge reflects inflation as well as a contribution towards the capital costs of the new equipment.
The old equipment did not provide change. The new coin/note machines will give change from £2 coins and £5 and £10 notes only. Other coins or notes are not accepted. The Tollgate keeper will no longer provide change. Tags replace the old tollgate card and store a number of pre-paid units. The tag is placed in front of the windscreen and is read as the vehicle approaches the tollgate by a infrared sensor which will then lift the barrier.
Tags are available from the Dulwich Estate in pre-paid units in multiples of 100. Each unit is worth a single journey. A concessionary rate of 25% discount is offered to Dulwich freeholders subject to the Scheme of Management, a leaseholder of property owned by the Dulwich Estate, a tenant of freehold property owned by the Dulwich Estate. A lower concessionary rate of 15% discount is offered to others, on or off the Estate.
When the turnpike trusts of the 17th & 18th centuries opened up the roads out of London, the tolls produced went to the profit of the individual companies operating the trusts, after deducting expenses for the payment of keepers and the maintenance of tollgates and keepers' cottages and the surface of the road. The Dulwich Estate is interpreting the income from the Tollgate (after deducting operating costs and depreciation) as general income to its beneficiaries. Therefore the maintenance of the road surface, according to the statement the Estate has issued, has to be borne by those freeholders whose properties front onto College Road.