60% of Motorists would change their route to avoid new tolls

Additional tolls on Dublin’s M50 and on other routes around the country would cause extensive traffic congestion on alternative routes, according to the AA.

An AA survey of over 13,000 Irish motorists shows that 60.9% of drivers would change their route to avoid a new toll if one were applied. The results show that proposals for new tolls on the M50 would do much more harm than good because they would cause additional traffic to avoid the motorway and re-congest suburbs like Sandyford, Dundrum and Blanchardstown instead.

“To apply a toll on the entire length of the M50 would be an act of traffic planning madness.” Says Director of Policy Conor Faughnan. “Tolls cause traffic to divert. This is a simple fact of life that neither the government nor the NRA can ignore. To apply a toll to the M50, which was built as a by-pass in order to relieve the congested suburbs, would have the effect of immediately channelling traffic back onto those unsuitable suburban roads.”

The AA has never been in favour of tolls on Irish roads because of the diversion effect. This has been borne out by the experience of places like Fermoy, Drogheda and Kinnegad where large volumes of traffic still drive through the towns despite the existence of multi-million euro by-passes. This congestion is a significant cost to local businesses and communities.

The NRA is currently engaged in a study to assess the feasibility of charging tolls on the entire length of the M50 rather than just the Westlink Bridge. The AA is calling on Transport Minister Leo Varadkar to call a halt to this immediately.

“It goes against all common sense to put a toll on a by-pass.” Says Faughnan. “You don’t find it anywhere else in the world. For Dublin, new M50 tolls would mean a return to the bad old days of major congestion in the suburbs. Residents and businesses, who well remember what it was like before the M50 was completed, are contacting the AA expressing their dismay at the idea.”

Despite its apparent attractiveness as a revenue-raising measure, tolls are not in fact as lucrative as they seem. The M50 toll raises €80 million per year but it also costs over €20 million to run the enormously complicated collection system – money that the AA sees as pure waste.

“Compared to the €2.5 billion that we pay in fuel taxes it is relatively small money.” Says Faughnan. “In fact just a couple of cents of excise duty on petrol and diesel raises more money than every toll in the country combined. Considering the collateral damage that they cause, tolls just aren’t worth it.”


Notes to the editor:

During our latest AA Motoring Poll (issued 05/08/11) we asked motorists how they would react if a new toll was introduced on their daily commute.  The figure below examines to what extent motorists would take measures to avoid paying additional tolls.

Fig. 1 How often respondents said they would change their route to avoid a toll should one be introduced on their daily commute (Based on 13,702 responses):


Agree completely Agree somewhat Neutral Disagree somewhat Disagree completely
41.9% 19.0% 13.4% 11.5% 14.8%


Agree completely Agree somewhat Neutral Disagree somewhat Disagree completely
40.9% 25.4% 12.4% 10.4% 11.4%


Agree completely Agree somewhat Neutral Disagree somewhat Disagree completely
38.0% 35.3% 9.8% 6.2% 11.5%




  1. Re: Make Drogheda Toll Free. Remove ramp Tolls at Junction 9.

    The Dundalk Western By-pass motorway was officially opened on Monday 26th September 2005, five months ahead of schedule. This additional 11km of motorway was added to the 43km already operated by CRG. CRG operates and maintains the M1 motorway from Gormanston (Meath) to just short of Balymascanlan (Louth). CRG, run and maintain this 54km section of the M1 motorway until 2034.The Dundalk Western By-pass is not only an integral link between Dublin and Belfast but is also part of the Trans-European Road Network (Euroroute E01) This project is fully funded through the collection of tolls located south of the Boyne at JUCTION 9 (Donore Road Ramp Tolls) and the main CRG Toll Plaza, at Balgeen, Drogheda, Co Meath.

    Entry to Drogheda via junction 9 (Donore Road) will incur a Toll. This is a main artery route in and out of the Town and is viewed as a Toll on the Town. No other Town or densely populated urban areas on this section of road has a Toll at it entry point. This toll is neither fair nor equitable and should be removed.

    The following PETITION has the full support of Drogheda Borough Council and is available on line at http://www.makedroghedatollfree.com

    ‘ We, the undersigned formally petition you to remove the Toll Ramps on the Donore Road which is the main artery road into Drogheda, Junction 9 from the M1.
    We say that the Toll Booths are a barrier to daily local vehicular use, for schools and for employment and partitions our two main shopping retail parks. Direct access to our Industrial Area and IDA Park is channelled via the Ramp Toll. We call on you to Make Drogheda Toll Free ‘.

    Your support would be appreciated.

  2. As an Irish person living abroad, I used to visit Ireland several times a year. Mostly bringing friends and sometimes their families to see Ireland. I would also talk to a lot of people who wanted to visit and wanted tips. For the following reasons no one wants to go any more.

    M50 toll. You may think it’s just a few euro, but in fact it is a huge deterrence for tourists. Right after getting through the poorly signposted Dublin airport and getting a rental car sorted out, then figuring out the driving on the other side issue. Tourists are presented with the hassle of changing your travel arrangements to go and find an internet cafe, then having to figure out how and where to pay. Yes it’s a learning curve for people who don’t know anything about it. They just have a few hours before their toll doubles. There are no clearly signposted alternate routes, people feel as if they are being forced into the toll. It’s sheer greed.

    Airport taxes and visa charges, as well as ridiculous procedures for some eastern Europeans wishing to visit for a long weekend. Can you really expect anyone to put their passport in the post and send if off for a week or two, hoping it might return, when all they want is to visit for a weekend?

    The last straw was the absurd per person car parking charges at the cliffs of Moher. And the way people are practically tricked into paying it.

    Toll roads are a curse to any tourism industry, the land of green is quickly becoming known as the land of greed. Do something about this before it becomes embarrassing, please.

Comments are closed.