Dempsey defends M50 toll system


NEW BARRIER-free tolls on Dublin's M50 motorway are misreading 0.2 per cent of the cars going through the system, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey has told the Dáil.

"Therefore it is achieving a read rate of 99.8 per cent," he said of the system, which records between 95,000 and 105,000 vehicles daily.

There was a difficulty of "people not having their tags fitted properly or having damaged registration plates", he told Labour spokesman Tommy Broughan.

In a staunch defence of the National Roads Authority (NRA) Mr Dempsey said it would be "grossly unfair to blame the operator for people's inability to follow the instructions which are supplied with all tags".

Mr Broughan said that from the calls and e-mails he had received "it appears the situation is chaotic". He also suggested that almost €30 million of the €80 million income would be spent running the system.

The Minister replied that if those figures were correct he would not "turn my nose up" at that amount. In the current climate "I would be delighted to get it".

The Dublin North East TD said that some companies had put a number of staff working on problems to do with the toll, "and nothing else", so the cost-benefit system for some businesses was quite bad.

He added that based on the penalty points system, at least 5 per cent of motorists using the M50 could not be traced because they drove foreign registered cars.

Mr Dempsey said the NRA had warned there would be teething problems.

Along with the difficulty with tags and damaged registration plates "there is also a difficulty where people have not updated their registration numbers on to the eFlow or other systems in place.

"The NRA has engaged with all the companies and cross-checking is being carried out," Mr Dempsey added.

The Minister said that 66 per cent of journeys were by vehicles with a tag or video account and one third of journeys were "pay as you go".

Mr Dempsey said that since it opened six weeks ago some 2.8 million journeys have now been transacted through the barrier-free tolling system.

He stressed that the new system has cut half an hour off the southbound journey for motorists.

The volume of calls to the call centre had far exceeded all predictions, and measures had been put in place to correct the faults, which were common with similar systems around the world, Mr Dempsey said.