MAG Responds to N Roads Toll Proposal

Background: The “Local Government Efficiency Review Group” established by Environment Minister John Gormley in December 2009 deliverd it’s report on 23 July 2010. Amongst the recommendations is one that tolling charges be extended from motorways to national roads.

MAG’s response to this idiotic proposal was as follows:

So once again Irish road users are to be hit in the pocket to travel on roads that we have already paid for and continue to pay for through motor tax and fuel tax. MAG Ireland has always opposed road user charging at the point of use. Where tolls have been introduced, for example on motorways, MAG Ireland has always held the position that the motorcycle, as an environmentally friendly form of transport, should be exempt. In addition motorcycles, unlike HGV’s, cause no damage to the road infrastructure in use.

MAG Ireland is therefore totally opposed to the latest suggestion that national roads to be tolled in order to raise revenue for local authorities. MAG believes that proposed new tolls would apply to many of the bypasses constructed over the past decade or so, for example, Arklow, Gorey, Boyle, Mullingar, Ennis, Ballaghadreen, etc. specifically to make it difficult for frequent road users to avoid them.

This new proposal is totally unacceptable to MAG Ireland for the following reasons;

  • Tolls impact motorcycle safety. A number of motorcyclists have been killed or injured at Irish toll booths, either hit from behind or crushed as cars attempt to squeeze through at the same time as the motorcyclist.
  • Tolls are shown to cause heavy traffic to divert onto lesser roads frequently used by light motorcycles and commuters, as already happens at Drogheda, Enfield & Fermoy. This also has a negative impact on road safety.
  • Only a fraction of the revenue raised from motor tax & fuel tax is spent on the roads. Adding tolls to existing routes will not improve that situation as the revenue raised will likely be squandered on zombie banks etc.
  • Tolls on national routes will disproportionately impact on rural dwellers and long haul commuters as well as frequent road users like couriers.
  • Almost all existing tolls go to private companies, some of whom have a guaranteed income regardless of how many people use the roads, for example the M3 motorway.
  • Tolls increase the cost of doing business, so making Ireland less competitive at a time when we clearly need to be doing the direct opposite.

Previous increases in the annual motor tax were supposed to have been “ring fenced” to provide local authorities with roads maintenance revenue. This did not happen, and the same will happen again if tolling of national routes is brought in.

This proposal is detrimental to motorcyclists who are disproportionately charged at existing tolls, and in the short term is not even cost effective. To collect tolls you need toll booths or cameras & these are not in place nor is the infrastructure required to police such a scheme. MAG knows that to get tolls in would require a significant capital investment programme running to tens of millions of Euro – paid for by the taxpayer – and doubtless from the local authorities existing road maintenance budget.

The net result of this proposal, as has been seen at every location where tolling has been introduced, is a negative impact on local traffic, road users in general, and motorcycles in particular.