PROBLEMS with the Tag system on the Tamar Bridge represent only a very small percentage of the total journeys made by TamarTag discount holders, says the operator. 

Over recent weeks, some regular users have experienced hold-ups as they’ve tried to use the tag lanes, adding to the frustration of the busy commute. 

Motorists have reported that their Tag has failed, even though it’s in credit – and they’ve said that among the explanations given by bridge staff  for the problems are “the technology struggling to keep up with the traffic when its busy” and even the weather. 

One regular commuter said: “I tried going through the tag lane this morning; didn’t work! When help arrived he checked my tag was in the correct place; yes! Had credit; yes! So his response was “we only expect this technology to work 70% of the time.” 

 Another person commented “I’ve been  told to use the toll booths, as my tag does not work every time.” 

One local driver said: “I know if a car stops at the barrier that some of those behind are likely to not be picked up by the tag machine while they wait: it seems to miss ours while we queue. It happened to me last week and previously too. I could feel the hate as we stopped again.” 

For drivers caught up in a jam the frustration is immense, but bridge management organisation Tamar Crossings says that the vast majority of Tag-holders go through smoothly every day. 

And they say that out of all the Tag failures that do occur, three-quarters are down to either a lack of credit or the Tag itself being in the wrong position in the vehicle. 

We asked for information about the Tags and received the following response from a Tamar Crossings spokesperson: 

“We get around 13,500 tags through the Bridge toll plaza on a typical weekday, and of those on average 550 result in failed transactions that are logged generically as ‘tag failures’, so approximately 4%.  

“Such ‘tag failures’ may not actually be a result of a defective tag or failure of the toll system that reads the tag, and can occur for a host of reasons. The most frequent reasons for tag failure are :  

• Insufficient funds on tag account, along with not allowing enough time between account top up and driving through plaza (20 minutes required from top up to download to lanes)  

• Invalid tag (tag has been suspended as reported lost/stolen)  

• Tag incorrectly placed in windscreen  or not attached to windscreen on vehicle  

• Battery dead or damaged tag  (tags have to be manually scanned)  

“There are also some less frequent reasons for tag failure:  

• Tag not assigned correctly to tag account  

• Toll lane functional error  

• Vehicle tailgating (too close to vehicle in front for tag to read correctly)  

Of the 4% of crossings logged as ‘tag failures’, around three quarters (3%) are due to lack of tag account credit and incorrect tag placement in vehicle.  

“The tags themselves have batteries with typically seven years life, so eventually tags stop working because the batteries have completely discharged. 

“Tag users with credit in their accounts but experiencing repeated tag failures should contact our Customer Services Team and arrange for the tag to be checked and replaced where appropriate.  

“We consider the reliability of the tolling system as a whole to be routinely in excess of 99%, and we are continually striving to improve on that.”