It seems that from next August, tolls on the M50’s Westlink will be raised from €1.90 to €3 for occasional users – a whopping 60% increase! I had thought that the battle had been won and that the State had bought out NTR for €600 million, €50 million per year until 2020. I thought that this had been done to let traffic flow freely and to relieve the misery of the motorist on the M50.
However, what has happened is that the government has bought out NTR’s interest so that the motorist, having been screwed by one monopoly, will now be screwed by the State in an even more crucial and acute way. The government should instead be concentrating on providing public transport alternatives to motorists. Here’s what I told the Seanad:
The toll at the Westlink is a serious issue not because of the detail but because of the principle. The State is increasing the toll by approximately 60%, which is unacceptable. There is no alternative for people because one of the most extraordinary aspects of this toll is that it is not spread around the M50.
One can travel on the M50 from one point to another without paying anything. One must only go through one point at the Westlink to pay. It is an extraordinary anomaly which the State is exploiting. It should be completely toll free or that the approach roads should be tolled. It is not an easy thing for a politician to say but it is a time in the electoral period when that position could be taken.
One cannot take the M50 in isolation and toll it to get money to pay for the upkeep of the road. This is systematic of an appalling transport problem. Why do we not consider letting people travel free on public transport in the
area or further afield to get them off the roads, as suggested by the Labour Party? Instead of the State doing that, it is keeping people on the roads and screwing them for money in the way NTR did in the past. What is happening is wrong and the Minister should come to the House to tell us a little more about transport policy in the context of what is happening today. Dublin