Getting to grips with toll tags

Wed, Jul 9, 2008, 01:00

New, barrier-free tolling on the M50 is designed to make life easier for motorway users - but how do you know which of the eight tag providers to use? What's the difference? Paddy Comynhas the answers

AUGUST 30TH sees the introduction of barrier-free tolling on the M50. So what does this all mean for those using the road?

It means that while drivers currently have to slow down and stop at a barrier on the M50, which has lead to serious delays for a number of years, the new system will dispense of barriers, operators and coins and use electronic tags or plate recognition technology to charge users of the road.

Cars will pass through at the legal limit without the need to slow down or stop.

How much does it cost? Is it still €2?

That is the lowest amount you can pay. And that is only if you use an electronic tag, supplied by one of eight operators of the devices. You sign up for a tag and fit it to your car and it will deduct money from your account. There are eight tag suppliers: Eirtag, Eazy Pass, Mini Tag, Pass Direct, Transroute, eTrip, eFlow and TollTag.ie. Many of these different operators are relevant to different areas of the country.

Do I have to pay for these tags?

It depends. Some will lease you the tag, while others might ask you to purchase it - for around €30, in some cases. Accounts are topped up using debit or credit cards.

Administration costs vary between operators.

The cheapest provider overall is eFlow, run by the National Roads Authority, which has no upfront payment for the tag and there is a €1 monthly administration fee.

Eight operators? I'm confused! Help!

There is a lot of choice on offer, so you would be well advised to shop around for these tags. The NRA is to launch a price comparison website, comparetag.ie, which will allow motorists to compare the charges of each of the eight suppliers. It will be online beginning next week.

But I already have a tag in my car - do I need a new one?

No, your existing EazyPass, Minitag or other tag will work on the new barrier-free system.

And what if I don't want a tag?

Well, there are two more options.

You can pre-register your credit or debit card to use the Westlink bridge with eFlow.ie, and that will use number plate recognition technology to identify you and deduct €2.50 from your designated card or account.

€2.50? Why am I paying more for what amounts to the same thing?

There is an "incentive" to get people to buy tags, because it is likely to be the most reliable method, and it has the lowest administrative costs.

That is why you pay €2.00 with a tag, and €2.50 if you register for plate recognition.

So that's it then, is it?

Not quite. If you don't get a tag or pre-register your car for plate recognition, there is a more expensive alternative.

You can simply use the road, and pay €3 either beforehand or up until 8pm the following day.You pay this online, through a 24-hour telephone centre, or by buying a personalised ticket from 2,000 Payzone-enabled shops and garages. The toll will recognise your registration number as you drive through.

What happens if I pay late?

If the toll is not paid by 8pm the following day, a €3 penalty is incurred.

A €40 fine is imposed if this is not paid within 14 days. Leave it 56 days, and the fine goes up to €100. After that, legal proceedings start.