Toll roads are in existence throughout the world and have been in operation in Ireland since the 1980s. In general toll roads impose a toll (levy or charge) on each vehicle using these roads. Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) has responsibility for overseeing the implementation of tolling throughout Ireland. In addition, TII also has responsibility for planning, supervising constructing and maintaining all national roads.
Why are toll charges imposed?
Transport Infrastructure Ireland 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 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. Transport Infrastructure Ireland 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 Transport Infrastructure Ireland, toll roads are being constructed as additions to the current network of national roads rather than providing a means of improvement of existing roads.
New toll road schemes
Each time a toll scheme is proposed for a road, Transport Infrastructure Ireland must publish a public notice notifying citizens in the area that this change is being proposed. In addition, Transport Infrastructure Ireland 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 Transport Infrastructure Ireland 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.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland 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 TII within a specified period.
If objections to the Draft Toll Scheme are received and not withdrawn, Transport Infrastructure Ireland 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 Transport Infrastructure Ireland prior to determining whether or not to adopt the Draft Toll Scheme.
Transport Infrastructure Ireland may adopt the Draft Toll Scheme with or without modifications or may refuse to adopt it.
The decision of TII on the Toll Scheme proposal will be published.
Exemptions from toll charges
Certain vehicles 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.
Penalties for not paying toll fees
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:
- Initial default - penalty charge of €3.00
- After 14 days - additional penalty charge of €41.00
- After further 56 days - additional penalty charge of €102.50
- Total fines per passage - €146.50
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 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 Transport Infrastructure Ireland'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 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 providing electronic tags to motorists. All these providers use the same system which means you only need one tag for all tolling facilities. Information on suppliers of electronic tags and the different types of tag accounts is available at 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 eflow.ie.
How to pay
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.
Where to apply
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.