Taking its toll: how motorists can cut the toll of road tag costs

Regular users of toll roads should consider their tag options

It came, not quite at the last minute, but close enough that thousands of motorists have already switched their toll tag provider. From tomorrow, August 31st, drivers on motorways around the country were expected to face extra delays because their electronic tags, which allow them to fast-track the tollbooth, were no longer expected to work on certain roads controlled by the Celtic Roads Group (CRG), including the M7 and M8 (Portlaoise to Castletown, and Portlaoise to Cullahill).

It was thought that up to 80,000 drivers would have been affected by the disagreement between toll service provider eFlow and motorway operator CRG, which meant that their eFlow electronic tag would longer have worked on certain roads.

These eFlow customers would have had to pay cash at these toll plazas, while their tags would have continued to operate as normal on the following motorways: Dublin's M50; M3 (Clonee-Kells); M4 (Kilcock-Enfield-Kinnegad); N6 (Galway-Ballinasloe); N8 (Rathcormac-Fermoy Bypass); East-Link Bridge; Dublin Port Tunnel; and Limerick Tunnel.

However, late on Friday agreement was finally reached, as CRG agreed to accept eFlow tags on the following roads: M1 from Gormanston to Monasterboice; the M7 and M8 (Portlaoise to Castletown, and Portlaoise to Cullahill) and the N25 (Waterford City bypass).


The dispute is understood to have arisen because of a failure to renew a contract between eFlow operator Transport Infrastructure Ireland (formerly the National Roads Authority) and roadbuilder Celtic Roads Group. It is understood that Celtic Roads Group was not happy with the level of charges and had delayed renewing a service agreement that expired earlier this year.

Minister for Transport Shane Ross welcomed the agreement, saying it was “good news for road users and it means eFlow tags will continue to be recognised at all toll points across the country”.

In the run-up to the agreement however, anxious motorists around the country had already started to make the switch, fearful of being stuck in tailbacks at the toll booth. If you’re used to just driving through the “easy pass” lane on roads such as the M7, taking the time to pay at a booth will likely frustrate you, while some drivers who try to use their tag in the “easy pass” lane may find that they have to turn around, potentially causing further delays.

Indeed, alternative tag provider Easytrip says that visits to its website soared by 400 per cent in recent weeks, with some 20,000 eFlow customers having made the move by August 24th.

But, while the onus on motorists to switch has now been removed, could there still be a case to check out your options and save money by switching? And if you’ve never had a tag, is it worthwhile getting one to make savings of as much as 33 per cent?

Should I

get another tag?

If you have never had a tag and are considering getting one, it may be worth your while if you’re a user – even infrequent – of roads such as the M50, which charge tag users less. For example, if you pay as you go, you’ll be charged €3.10 each time. If you sign up for either a video account, where the toll is debited from your account and you don’t pay a monthly service fee, the toll drops to €2.60, or €2.10 if you have a tag.

Another factor is late payments. If you use the M50 but forget to settle the payment before 8pm the day after you have travelled, either online or at a Payzone outlet, it's likely that you will receive a penalty letter.

These can quickly add up. If you miss the first deadline, you’ll be liable for €3; should you leave it more than 14 days to settle up, you’ll face a fine of €41; and if the fine isn’t paid within 56 days, the penalty soars to €150 (€41+€103+€3+€3.10) and you may face legal proceedings.

However, infrequent users should note that they will face costs in either buying, or renting a tag, and this may mean they could be better off simply paying as they go, provided they remember to always settle their bill on time.

What are my options?

There are four providers of tag accounts in Ireland, including eFlow.

Deciding whether to use a tag depends on how often you use a motorway. If you use the M50 just twice in a year, for example, it’s hardly worth paying the monthly administration charge of about €1.25 most providers charge.

Pay-as-you-toll options require you to pre-fund your account, while those that charge a monthly administration fee typically automatically top up your account without you having to do anything.

But you can also pay upfront for a tag, with a provider such as ParkMagic. It charges €30 for its tag, and the only additional charges arise when you use the tag, at a cost of 10 per cent of the toll. It’s convenient but costly.

Another option is a tag from Easytrip, which costs €25, but its actual cost works out at about the same as ParkMagic, as you will also pay a monthly fee of €0.62 for the tag, which makes a total of €32.44 a year.

On the other hand, if you’re a frequent user the frustration of queuing will likely mean that you’ll pay this fee for the ease of using the fast lane. This generally means “renting” a tag by paying a monthly administration fee. Easytrip, for example, charges €1.23 a month, as does eFlow, while DirectRoute charges €1.25. This is about an extra €14 a year.

While it’s a difficult thing to do, considering you’ll likely have it stuck to the inside of your car, beware of losing your tag. Easytrip, for example, charges €15.25 to replace a tag, and it charges €8.61 if a direct debit is returned unpaid.

Some providers, such as DirectRoute and ParkMagic, seek a €20 deposit, which is typically fully refundable but still leaves you out of pocket by that amount while you use the tag.

Another option for M50 users is a video account, which saves €0.50 each time. While the savings may not be as great as with a tag account, no monthly administration fee applies. So, for example, if you use the M50 10 times a year, you will pay €26 with a video account, compared with €31 if your car is not registered. For light to medium users, then, a video account can make sense.