East link tolling system to stay in place – TheLiberal.ie – Our News, Your Views

East link tolling system to stay in place

Dublin councillors voted this week to keep toll charges in place for the East link toll bridge in the Docklands area. However the council agreed that the current fee may not be applicable. 

 While the bridge was built in 1984, it came under the joint ownership of Dublin Corporation, Dublin Port and private company National Toll Roads. National toll roads sold their rights to Dutch company DIF in 2010. After a thirty year agreement, the city will gain full ownership of the bridge on the 31st December 2015.  

 Last year the toll received a net profit of €4.2m however Dublin city council only received a    fraction of this when 58.34 per cent went to DIF, 25 per cent to the Dublin port Company and 16.66 per cent to the council.The council also had to distribute €600,000 of this profit to reimburse lorries that had no choice but to use the toll bridge due restrictions on 5 axel lorries in the city centre. 

 The current toll in place is €1.75 for private motor cars and €2.60 for buses and coaches. Last night, the committee agreed that “there will be a toll, but it will not be the toll”. The current toll charge is subject to change. While the committee was sympathetic with the fact that certain commuters have to cross the bridge while others do not, suggestions were made by Dermot Lacey to introduce seasonal tickets so that commuters who regularly have to cross the east link toll do not have to pay the same fees as once off travellers. 

 A meeting has yet to be scheduled to discuss any toll changes. A new council will be elected in May however and the decision will fall upon newly elected committee members. 

 However committee members had reasons other than profit for keeping the tolls in place when they stated that a removal of the toll could lead to a significant influx of traffic from the rings end area. City Engineer Michael phillips also composed a report for the council that recommended keeping the toll in place. 

 The region that accommodates the East Link toll currently receives a grant of €126,000 which it would also lose out on if the toll charges were to be dropped. 

Andrew Montague, the chairperson of Dublin’s transport committee spoke of how a number of factors had led them to keep the toll in place. “It costs the council money to keep the bridge open so the toll is a way for them to pay their way” He also spoke of the feared influx of traffic from Eastwall but he lastly mentioned the benefits thats such an income could have for projects in the city. 

 “We have a desperate homeless problem in the city, the new income could benefit a project to combat this” . The council are also working towards a new project that benefits public transport through the priority of buses. “Bus priority will be given at traffic lights but it will ease public transport”. Other amenities and projects were also briefly mentioned such as “Road surfacing, Libraries, parks and community projects”.

Bill Tormey suggested that the revenue generated from the tolls could work towards a different project every year with transparency as to where the funding is going. 

Not everyone was of the same mind set however, Conor Faughan of the AA discussed there was ‘not a single good reason’ for retaining the toll. “This is deeply disappointing,” he said. “I don’t think there’s a single good reason for the council to do this, other than that they can.”

 He protested that “This is straightforwardly an exercise in taking money out of the pockets of motorists, because they feel they can do so.”

 Current workers at the toll facilities will have their employment rights transferred as of 2016, however Montague spoke of how there will more than likely be a “new tolling company with the same staff”. He said that another benefit from last nights decision is that twenty employees will not be displaced after 2015. 

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