To ask the Minister for Transport if he is committed to open road tolling; the steps he has taken to expedite this matter; when the necessary legislation will be published; the cost of its introduction at the Westlink toll-bridge; and the timescale proposed for the new system to be in place.
For PRIORITY answer on Thursday, 24th March, 2005.
Ref No: 9823/05 Lottery: 5
Answered by the Minister for Transport (Martin Cullen)
Open road tolling, that is the collection of tolls by automated means in a barrier free environment, is, I consider, the optimal means of toll collection where the traffic volumes and toll revenues justify the investment required.
The only route where a move to full open road tolling (i.e. no manual collection and barrier free) is being considered however, is the M50. The move from the current toll arrangement on the M50 to barrier free facility would be completed over a number of stages, involving a phased reduction in the cashier/coin basket lanes with a corresponding increase in payments by automated toll collection methods.
The objective on other toll schemes, where the traffic volumes and toll revenues would not justify full open road tolling, will be to continue to provide a mix of manual and automated toll collection facilities.
The legislative changes necessary to facilitate the implementation of barrier free tolling on automated toll collection lanes on other toll schemes, through the implementation of appropriate deterrents for non payment of tolls, have been the subject of consultation with the National Roads Authority, NTR and other companies with an interest in the operation of toll plazas.
I anticipate, subject to the other priorities on the legislative programme, that the draft legislation will be introduced in Autumn of this year.
I understand from the NRA that the cost of implementing barrier free tolling on the M50 has yet to be determined and will depend on the outcome of negotiations with NTR. The NRA is aiming to complete the move to barrier free tolling to coincide with the completion of the upgrade of the M50.