Toll fines hit fleets


FLEET MANAGEMENT companies and car hire firms have complained of grave difficulties in dealing with the “back office” of the M50’s barrier-free toll system. Some claim they are receiving 100 fines a day in error.

The National Roads Authority (NRA), operator of the eFlow system is aware of the problems and has set up a separate database for fleet and car hire companies in a bid to stem the tide of complaints since the system went live at the end of August.

The NRA also met this week with tag providers in a bid to ascertain why so many tags are not being recognised by the overhead scanners. A spokesman said they believed that drivers had not positioned the tags correctly in their vehicles.

However, fleet managers, hire companies and haulage firms have not been mollified. Dublin-based Merrion Fleet Management said one member of staff is now working full time on attempts to sort out erroneous fines, while up to 12 other executives are spending about one hour a day on the problems.

Sales manager David Wilkinson said the problems encountered included:fines for vehicles which had tags displayed; fines for vehicles which had video registration; fines for vehicles after payment was made even in the face of copies of the receipts being forwarded; fines emerging where the drivers were demonstrably not on the M50 at the time; fines arriving up to 10 days after the event, leaving the driver with just four days to avoid a €40 fine; fines being issued demanding a €40 fine after 12 days – two days ahead of the deadline for a €40 fine.

Mr Wilkinson said that eFlow had nominated a customer service executive to deal with the accounts but he insisted they were not connectable and e-mails sent had remained unanswered.

“We don’t want to be negative but we are spending a lot of our time on this. We had warned our clients we would impose a fine of €25 if they failed to engage with eFlow but we couldn’t possibly charge them that in this climate,” he said.

A spokeswoman for a second fleet hire company added that they had written to eFlow and were seeking a meeting to “find a way out of this mess”.

Jimmy Quinn of the Irish Road Haulage Association said he believed five axle lorries banned from the city centre were entitled to free passage and that the association would be letting a test case go to court to establish the issue.

Sean O’Neill of the NRA said he believed the majority of the problems stemmed from misplaced tags and could be eliminated by motorists examining where they placed their tags.

In relation to fleet vehicles he said that a separate database had been set up to match fleet car registrations to the car user as opposed to the owner which was the fleet company.

However, he acknowledged that fines could issue faster than this process could actually match registrations with drivers and check if they had tags.

He went on to say that if these people got one fine, it would be unlikely move to the next stage, of higher fine or ultimately court action.