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. If you live in Dunleer and work in Balbriggan you will pay €1,000 of your post-tax earnings to use the motorway to get to work every year. If you live in Julianstown and work in Dublin, you will use the same amount of newly built motorway, but pay nothing. If you live and work in the wrong place you will be 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 discrimination.
Toll plazas add to commute times by slowing down and/or stopping traffic. They also cause accidents. I’m not saying that toll plazas are death traps. But it seems obvious that risk of
accidents would be higher with all that de-accelerating, accelerating, looking for coins and lane jiving. Statistics are hard to come by. But I found some data from the USA. The chart below shows 4 years of aggregate accident data for 11 plazas in New Jersey.
I can summarise the above chart using kilometres and round numbers.
You are almost 5 times as likely to be in a collision within 320m of a toll plaza as you would on the ordinary motorway. A toll user is more likely to have his/her wing scrapped or his/her headlamp
busted than a people that don’t face tolls on their daily commute.
Clearly the government is treating toll users unfairly yet again. With so many rules on health
and safety it is a wonder that the Road Safety Authority has not shut down toll plazas.
Road Toll Stress and Ageism
If you are a frequent victim of toll booths you have to do a number of extra little things in life. You may always need the right coins to hand in your car. Alternatively you will have to invest a little time fiddling online with electronic tag companies.
Throwing coins into a basket is not always easy for older people. The teller staff can be hard to hear and it can be difficult to lean out of a window to pass coins.
Many older people are unfamiliar with online services. For them the M50 toll is a living nightmare. They are forced to pay manually before 8pm the following day or face a penalty. The M50 costs a lot more than €3.10 to them. We have people in their 70s and 80s making telephone calls with their credit card in their hand trying to pay an M50 toll. The government just doesn’t appear to care enough or at all about this.
Traffic in a second class City
If there was no road toll outside Droichead Átha, there would be a lot less traffic in Droichead Átha. Many people drive through all of or part of the city to avoid paying a toll. When we rid ourselves of tolls, Droichead Átha will be a less congested city. The city centre and those who live and work in it would benefit greatly. Naturally, first class towns and cities like Waterford, Kilkenny, Carlow, Newbridge and Naas do not suffer the inconvenience of pass through traffic. The needs of the Ireland’s fifth largest city are simply ignored.
Planning in a Second Class City
Droichead Átha is sprawling southwards in reaction to the road toll. More particularly, it is spreading southwards along the ‘free’ Dublin road as far as south gate. If the motorway was ‘toll
free’, in all likelihood developers would build new housing stock on the west side of Droichead Átha – closer to the M1.
Alas our burgeoning city is strangled by a road toll. Thus our local planning masters in Navan and Dundalk are asked to permission new housing developments that allow buyers to easily avoid the toll. It is harder for a developer to build and sell a house right beside a road toll. The potential buyer would prefer a house that avoids a road toll.
The maths is simple. Over the lifetime of a mortgage (25 years) a toll slave will pay €25,000 of after tax earnings on tolls. This goes a long way to explaining the price difference in the picture above.
If you were a builder, would you try to build and sell housing beside the Donore Road toll booth? The houses compared above are both 3 bed end of terrace houses - 130 Knockbrack Downs and 24 Park Square, Grange Rath, (www.daft.ie) June 2016.
The location of housing nationally is becoming distorted by road toll positions. Planning our towns and cities around the random location of toll plazas is madness.
I have a plan to get rid of road tolls. I need you the reader to help me. Too many in our community are quick to complain and reluctant to act. Don’t be one of them.
The Political and Personal numbers behind Road Tolling
After the next general election there will be discussions among parties to form a new government. The abolition of road tolls will not be on the agenda. None of the major political parties have a stated interest in getting rid of road tolls. I want to change this, starting with my own party – Fianna Fáil.
Like other parties Fianna Fáil has expressed zero interest in abolishing tolls but Fianna Fáil is very interested in winning seats in the next general election. There are up to 15 constituencies directly affected by road tolls throughout the country. With a ‘toll free’ policy Fianna Fáil could win a lot of seats. So I want to send them a clear unambiguous signal – kill tolls and win seats. I have figured out a way to send this message to my party. I want to sign up as many people as I can to join Fianna Fáil on this particular policy issue via www.jffk.ie
My guess is that as few as 200 new members would be sufficient to influence Fianna Fáil. Remember Louth is a test case. It can be repeated across the 15 constituencies that are affected by road tolls. This adds up to over 2000 members nationally. That’s big news!
Judging by the traffic statistics from www.tii.ie and census data we can estimate that there are between 10 and 15 thousand Louth residents using the toll to go to work. They are spending about €1,000 per annum. I’m asking them to take a chance on me and Fianna Fáil. I’m asking them to pay a membership fee of €50. They don’t have to do anything else. It is a great deal. For a small fee those that sign up could save tens of thousands over a lifetime.
Similarly there are many in Droichead Átha who would agree that the toll is a blight on our town. I’m asking them to do the same thing. Take a chance.
I only need a small proportion of them to join FF via www.jffk.ie
Other Political Parties
If you are a member or supporter of another political party please do has I am doing. Join me. Try to get people to join your party on this issue. Copy any of the material from my website or from this series of articles on Droichead Átha Life. Competition between political parties to be the first to insert road toll abolition into their party manifestos would be a great thing for Droichead Átha and Louth.
I am not interested in pointless protesting or moaning about road tolls. I am only interested in success, in winning. You can help make this happen. This is a plan that can work with your help. Together we can achieve something special. Join us...Take Action Now!