TDs call on Government to intervene on planned toll increasesGary Ibbotson 24 Nov 2022
Dublin TDs are calling on the Government to intervene and put pressure on the tolling companies to reverse their decision to increase the tolls on major roads.
Nine toll roads will see their usage fees increase by almost 10 percent in January as operators say they need keep tolls in line with inflation.
As per legislation, prices can’t rise more than the rate of inflation and all nine roads will increase their tolls by the maximum level possible.
The rate of inflation between August 2021 and 2022 was 8.9 percent according to the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Overall, eight of the toll roads on the national road network are operated under a “Public Private Partnership” model, while two roads, the M50 and the Dublin Port Tunnel are operated by Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
TII has said that it will not be increasing the price of tolls for the Port Tunnel but the M50 toll will rise by 20 or 30 percent, depending on the vehicle.
A car on the M50 with a pre-registered tag will cost €2.30 from January, up from the current €2.10 charge.
The biggest change for drivers will be for those travelling the M50 in a car that hasn’t been registered, a current cost of €3.20 that will rise to €3.50.
The eight ‘Public Private Partnership’ roads will increase, with tolls for a car on the M1, M7/M8, M8, N6, N25WF and N18-L,T to rise from €2.00 to €2.10, and for LGV and bus tolls to increase from €3.50 to €3.80.
A car on the M3 will cost 10 cent more in January at €1.60, while M4 car tolls will go from €3.00 to €3.20.
A spokesperson for the TII said that the “M50 is a user pay funded motorway, through a barrier-free tolling system.
“TII is required under legislation to maintain a safe and efficient network of national roads and the M50 toll funds the maintenance and operation of the M50.”
“A deferment of the toll increase on the M50 would have required funding to be reallocated from other national road projects and reduce funding for asset management and renewal activities.”
However, Dublin Fingal TD Duncan Smith said the price increase is a “gouge” and that he doesn’t “believe the companies need to raise it.”
Speaking in the Dail last week, Deputy Smith said the price hike “came out of the blue.
“It’s accepted that tolls are a revenue raiser, no one likes paying tolls, but it’s accepted across the world to pay for a road system.
“This isn’t about paying money for climate measures or for congestion measures.
“That would be a totally different argument if it was.
“This is about raising the price under the existing contracts to the maximum amount allowed.”
Deputy Smith says toll roads are “huge revenue raisers” and that the M50 has brought in €1.2 billion over the past 10 years.
“What’s happened now is an unexplained grab of the maximum amount of revenue for these companies under the guise of keeping up with inflation.
“We have a transport committee, we have an accounts committee, we have a Dail, we have plenty of opportunities for TII to come to us and say “look, we know we’re in a cost of living crisis but we feel we need to raise the prices” and let’s interrogate it,” he says.
“What I want to see from the Government is that it will now engage with these companies.
“I hope that the Government will not just move on and assume that the people will just absorb the increase.”
Tanaiste Leo Vardakar TD said the Government was “not happy about” about the toll increases and would be discussing the matter with the companies involved.
“This came as a surprise to the Government, certainly came as a surprise to me, and we’re not happy about it.
“Just because the maximum toll is set at a certain rate doesn’t mean it has to be imposed,” he said.