State to pay firm €20m to chase unpaid M50 tolls

Transport Infrastructure Ireland puts out tender for ‘enforcement services’ on motorway

The estimated annual average daily traffic across the barrier-free toll this year is just 104,826 vehicles. File photograph: Crispin Rodwell

The estimated annual average daily traffic across the barrier-free toll this year is just 104,826 vehicles. File photograph: Crispin Rodwell

 

The State roads agency has put out a €20 million tender for a company to pursue unpaid M50 tolls.

The tender for enforcement services of the Dublin motorway’s barrier free-tolling has been advertised by Transport Infrastructure Ireland.

Toll income on the M50 amounted to €158 million in 2019, of which €9 million was from “default tolls” – also called penalties – which are currently administered by Co Kerry-based Pierse Fitzgibbon Solicitors.

The tender for “enforcement services” is for six years and has a value in the region of €20 million to whoever is awarded the contract.

Revenues from TII’s tolling business helped pay for the €1 billion M50 upgrade which widened the motorway a decade ago, and the maintenance and operation of the road.

The revenue also contributes to the cost of maintenance of the wider national roads network, including the Dublin Tunnel and the Jack Lynch Tunnel.

This year traffic volumes, particularly among private cars have fallen from the record highs recorded on the M50 in 2019, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.

The estimated annual average daily traffic across the barrier-free toll this year is just 104,826 vehicles.

The busiest part of the M50 is near Finglas, where the annual average daily traffic was 149,537 vehicles in 2019. This year the traffic at Finglas is expected to be down to about 110,000.

Costs of travel past the toll start at €2 for tag holders, while those who are not registered pay €3.10. There are higher charges for commercial vehicles with the highest being €6.40 for goods vehicles with an unladen weight exceeding 10,000kg, which are not registered for a toll tag.

Those who do not pay before 8pm the following day may see their penalties escalate rapidly. If the payment is not made by this time, a penalty charge of €3 will be incurred and a penalty letter to this effect will be issued to the registered owner of the vehicle.

If the payment has not been made within 14 days, an additional late penalty of €42 will be applied.

Failure to pay this outstanding amount within 56 days results in an additional late penalty charge of €105.

Following this motorists are liable to legal proceedings and court costs.

Last year, 22 motorists were hit with fines totalling €205,000 after they failed to turn up to court accused of M50 toll dodging.

Most of the 22 had records of between 100 and 200 unpaid trips. Thousands of warning letters had been sent to the motorists but the majority did not reply.

In 2018, 950 cases of drivers withholding payment of tolls and penalties were sent to the sheriff, who is responsible for the repossession of homes and belongings on foot of court orders or Revenue warrants. Forty cars were seized by the Dublin sheriff alone on foot of court judgments against people for dodging the M50 toll.

Transport Infrastructure Ireland said enforcement of toll collection was “about fairness for the 97 per cent of people who play by the rules”.

A spokesman said there were 54.9 million journeys under the eflow barrier free toll system on the M50 in 2019, and “the enforcement services are key component in helping to maintaining that high standard”.