Seanad debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters (Resumed)

Road Tolls

2:30 pm

Photo of Robbie GallagherRobbie Gallagher (Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State to the House to discuss the issue of the proposal by Transport Infrastructure Ireland, TII, to increase toll charges on many of our national routes. There are currently ten toll roads on the national road network, eight of which are operated under a public-private partnership, PPP, model and two of which are operated directly on behalf of TII, namely, the M50 and the Dublin Port Tunnel. TII recently announced that it plans to increase toll charges on nine of these roads in line with inflation from 1 January 2023. The only exception to this will be the Dublin Port Runnel which will be the only toll road not to face an increase. Charges relate to those driving cars with charges higher again for those driving vans, buses and heavy goods vehicles, HGVs. The Government needs to step in to ensure this does not happen.

As the Minister of State will be aware, we are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and the Government's emphasis to date - and rightly so - has been on measures to reduce the cost of public services for many hard-pressed families and businesses. The decision of TII flies in the face of Government policy. These private companies are already making millions of euro. It begs the question, how can TII justify increasing toll charges to the maximum permitted value at this point in time?Just last month, for example, the M3 toll operator reported €11 million in profit for the previous financial year. Many commuters are totally dependent on the private car. In places like County Monaghan, where I come from, there is no reliable public service transport available to people, so they have no option but to use their car and hit the road. Increasing these charges at this point in time will have the effect of people avoiding these toll charges and taking roads through small villages and towns; that is not what we are looking to see happen. It is clear that the Government needs to call a halt to this. Common sense needs to prevail. I look forward to the Minister of State's response; I hope it will indicate that process is under way.


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