Road Tolling in a Republic of Equals - Part 1

The users of our road network are not treated equally. Citizens of the northeast are discriminated against. They must pay a toll to bypass Drogheda.

The users of our road network are not treated equally. Citizens of the northeast are discriminated against.  They must pay a toll to bypass Drogheda. 

The good people of Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Newbridge and Naas can drive up and down 160Km of motorway free of charge, merrily bypassing towns big and small along the way.  There are no tolls! 

But it gets worse.  Even users of tolled road are not treated equally.  A friend of mine, Seán, moved to Dunleer in 2000.  This was before tolling started.  He works in Balbriggan.  Seán pays €1,000 of his post-tax earnings to use the motorway to get to work every year.  His sister Siobhán lives in Julianstown. She works in Dublin.  Siobhán uses the same amount of newly built motorway as Seán.  But Siobhán pays nothing.  Seán is being treated like a second class citizen in our republic.  That is completely unfair.

There is simply no fair or equitable place to put a toll.  Some drivers will pay tens of thousands of euros over a lifetime to use very little motorway while others may use more motorway over a lifetime and pay nothing.  This is not fair.  This is a form of ‘location discrimination’.  

Do we really need to collect tolls?

The short answer to the above question is – No.

As you can see from the table below private toll operators collect €217m per year, (www.asecap.com).  In addition to this the government itself collects €126m per year from the Eastlink, M50 and the Dublin Port Tunnel.  If we scrapped all tolls the gross loss to government revenue would be €343m.  But we need to recognise that toll operations cost money to run.  Thus there would be a saving here.  In round numbers we might say that scraping tolls would have a €300m impact on the government’s finances.

What about the loss of Revenue to the Government?

We have two options here.  First we can just forget about it.  Using the latest statistics available, (http://databank.finance.gov.ie/FinDataBank.aspx?rep=TaxYrOnYr), we can see that €300m represents a half of 1 cent in every euro that we collect annually.  This is as insignificant as a rounding error in our national accounts.

The second option would be to increase the taxes on motor fuel by €300m.  Using round numbers this equates to about a 5% increase to consumers at the petrol pump.  This is no rounding error, but it is still very manageable. 

CONCLUSION

Road tolls are more than just a costly irritant.  They cause stress, accidents and treat our road users unequally.  That does not make for a happy republic.  Let’s give Seán from Dunleer a break.

Kill the Tolls and put a smile on people’s faces.

Too many in our community are quick to complain and reluctant to act.  Don’t be one of them.

Help us!

Article Author
John Kierans

John Kierans is from Drogheda and lives with his wife and four children in Termonfeckin. John is a self employed stockbroker based in Drogheda. His company started in 1998 in the trading pits of the New York Board of Trade (NYBOT) in Dublin and New York. John is a former national Decathlon champion and holds 2 national masters records set in Britain and Austria in 2003.