Toll roads are in existence throughout the world and have been in operation in Ireland since the 1980s. In general toll roads in Ireland impose a toll (levy or charge) on each vehicle using these roads. The National Roads Authority (NRA) in Ireland has responsibility for overseeing the implementation of tolling throughout Ireland. In addition, the Authority also has responsibility for planning, supervising constructing and maintaining all national roads in Ireland.
The National Roads Authority is empowered by the Local Government (Toll Roads) Act, 1979 to charge and collect tolls for the use of certain roads by vehicles. Before a toll may be imposed on a road, a bye-law under the Act must be passed.
Major new road developments in Ireland are now undertaken and funded through Public Private Partnership (PPP). This means that part of the funding for road building and maintenance comes from public sources (i.e., the Irish government) and part of the funding comes from private commercial sources. The National Roads Authority use of Public Private Partnership projects is in accordance with the strategy of using tolling to the maximum extent possible on these roads to recoup part at least of the substantial private sector investment involved.
Under the approach being pursued by the National Roads Authority, toll roads are being constructed as additions to the current network of national roads rather than providing a means of improvement of existing roads.
Each time a toll scheme is proposed for a road, the National Roads Authority must publish a public notice notifying citizens in the area that this change is being proposed. In addition, the National Roads Authority is required to produce a Draft Toll Scheme and citizens are invited to inspect the scheme for a period of one month and make observations/submissions on the scheme.
If you have an objection to the scheme, you must make your objections clearly in writing to the National Roads Authority on or before the specified date.
The Draft Toll Scheme for a particular road and its accompanying Explanatory Statement will be prepared in accordance with the statutory provisions of the Roads Act 1993, as amended by the Planning and Development Act 2000.
The National Roads Authority will serve a Notice on the local authorities in whose areas the proposed toll road will be located informing them that a Draft Toll Scheme has been prepared for the road concerned and indicating that representations in relation to the proposal may be made in writing to the Authority within a specified period.
If objections to the Draft Toll Scheme are received and not withdrawn, the National Roads Authority will arrange an oral hearing in the areas where the proposed toll road will be located to enquire into the matters to which the objections relate. The report and recommendations of the person appointed to hold the hearing will be considered by the Board of the National Roads Authority prior to determining whether or not to adopt the Draft Toll Scheme.
The Authority may adopt the Draft Toll Scheme with or without modifications or may refuse to adopt it.
The decision of the Authority on the Toll Scheme proposal will be published.
Certain vehicles in Ireland are exempt from toll charges. The vehicles in question are vehicles belonging to and used for official purposes by the Defence Forces, vehicles used by An Garda Siochana (the Irish police force), fire brigade vehicles and ambulances.
Vehicles adapted for disabled drivers or passengers are also entitled to exemption from toll fees. Toll road operators issue special passes which are recognised by all other toll road operators and which allow such vehicles pass through the tolls without paying. To obtain a special pass apply to your nearest toll road operator (pdf).
Tolls and penalties can be recovered either through a criminal or civil procedure.
You can be charged with an offence of not paying your toll or not obeying the instruction of an authorised person. The penalty on summary conviction is a fine not exceeding €5,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months, or both.
On the M50, the bye-laws set out penalties for those who fail, refuse or neglect to pay toll fees. These are as follows:
The amount of tolls and penalties due are recoverable as a contract debt. The registered owner of a vehicle is responsible even if you are not driving the vehicle. This can be costly if there are multiple passages.
It is an offence in Ireland to fail, neglect or refuse to pay a toll on a national road.
Failure to pay your toll will mean that you cannot pass along the road.
The toll rates for the toll roads are available on the National Road Authority's website.
The Dublin Port Tunnel imposes a toll on cars, taxis, motorcycles, vans and light commercial vehicles only. Commercial vehicles above 3.5 tonnes laden weight and buses wih more than 25 seats do not pay tolls.
VAT registered road users can reclaim VAT paid on tolls.
Payment of tolls in Ireland is facilitated in two ways - by payment of cash or by eToll.
Electronic tolling allows motorists to use electronic tolling lanes, thereby saving time and the need to carry cash when travelling through a toll road. Electronic tolling uses a small electronic tag that is placed in the vehicle and is detected each time your vehicle passes through the toll. The toll is then debited against the customer's account. The electronic tolling system automatically recognises the correct toll for the class of vehicle you are driving.
There are a number of companies in Ireland providing electronic tags to motorists. All these providers use the same system which means you only need one tag for all tolling facilities in Ireland. Information on suppliers of electronic tags and the different types of tag accounts is available at www.tagcompare.ie.
Since August 2008 the West Link Bridge on the M50 operates a barrier-free tolling scheme called eFlow. This allows all motorists to pass through the toll at motorway speed. There are three methods of paying the tolls including using an electronic tag from eflow or a supplier mentioned. Charges varying depending on the method used. You cannot pay the toll with cash at the West Link Bridge, but the toll must be paid by 8 pm the next day. You can find out more about the toll scheme at www.eflow.ie.
Generally, toll charges are paid at the barrier to the toll road. You can pay either in cash, or by using an eToll tag. For the West Link Bridge, if you do not have an account you must pay online, by phoning Locall 1890 501 050 or through Payzone outlets.
If you are interested in obtaining an eToll tag, simply contact one of the companies providing electronic tolling tags. If you have a complaint about a toll road operator or your electronic tag provider, you should contact the company to find out how to make a complaint.
If you have a question relating to this topic you can contact the Citizens Information Phone Service on 0761 07 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm) or you can visit your local Citizens Information Centre.