Motorists missing toll discounts


MOTORISTS PAY millions extra each year to use some of the Republic’s new toll roads because they are losing out on bulk buying discounts that were enshrined as a condition of the development of the roads.

According to toll scheme bylaws, a discount of 10 per cent should apply to those who pre-pay their tolls for 20 journeys or more. Such conditions are part of the schemes for the M4 at Enfield and the M1 on the Dublin-Belfast route, as well as the Fermoy bypass in Co Cork.

But thousands of motorists are losing out because toll operators do not offer the discounts on pre-paid tags issued by operators other then themselves, or instead restrict themselves to offering the discounts on pre-paid swipe cards. The pre-paid swipe cards are not inter-operable and can be used only for the toll facility where they are purchased.

At the Fermoy toll in Co Cork, a 10 per cent discount for those who prepay for 20 trips or more is offered, but only to holders of that facility’s PassDirect tags. Holders of tags such as EazyPass (now Easytrip) and others do not qualify.

A customer service operator with Direct Route explained: “If you buy it from us you get a discount. If you buy it from EazyPass, you don’t.”

On the M4, operated by Eurolink, the 10 per cent discount is only offered to customers who call to the toll booths near Enfield and purchase a 20-trip card in advance of their journeys, said a spokeswoman. The cards are only valid for the M4.

A spokeswoman explained the Eirtag offered by Eurolink is described as “post-pay”, as opposed to pre-pay, so no discount arises. The cost of the Eirtag is €33.50 plus post and packaging and a refundable deposit of three times the relevant toll.

On the M1, swipe cards, available from the toll plaza head office, offer a 10 per cent discount for motorists pre-paying for 20 tolls. However the cards are only valid for the M1. The company’s own Minitag is a “post-pay system” and does not offer discounts.

The M1 toll is operated by Celtic Roads Group, whose spokesman Lorcan Wood explained that customers who prepay tag operators for bulk tolls, are “paying the tag companies, not us”.

Discounts for bulk buying are not, however, enshrined in the toll conditions for either the M50 or the Dublin Port Tunnel.

The National Roads Authority, which enshrined the discount condition in the toll scheme bylaws, was asked to comment yesterday but its press officer is on leave and a comment was not forthcoming at the time of going to press.