MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT Shane Ross has rejected the idea of adding multiple tolls at points along Dublin’s M50 motorway.
Speaking to the Irish Times, the Minister said the plan was currently not a runner.
In a statement to TheJournal.ie, a spokesperson for the Department of Transport confirmed that the “continued position is that necessary and substantial public transport alternatives would need to be in place before additional tolls could be considered”.
They added that Minister Ross has indicated that he “is not prepared to consider more toll points”.
In a report published last year by the National Transport Authority (NTA), they recommend adding extra tolls alongside a series of measures to ease congestion on the motorway, where increasing levels is becoming “unsustainable”.
The NTA said that, alongside improving public transport, measures such as parking restrictions, multi-point tolling and ramp metering “will be required” to meet the demand on the M50 in the coming years.
As there is no scope to extend the M50 or add additional capacity to the route, they say there are few other alternatives.
Such “demand management measures” are essential to ensure that the M50 retains sufficient capacity to fulfill its “strategic functions”, according to the NTA.
They say that, “without such interventions”, the substantial investments already made in the M50 and other roads will be put at risk.
Between 2011 and 2015, traffic on the M50 has steadily increased. In 2015, the average weekday traffic flow was 145,500 vehicles between the busiest junctions of the N4 and N7.
During peak time in the morning, there was an average of 33,000 vehicles travelling on the motorway, which rose to 34,000 during the evening peak time.
“At this level,” the NTA said, “delays are becoming a regular occurrence on the M50.
This is leading to associated knock-on effects in terms of journey time reliability and associated economic costs and personal stress. In addition, any incident is likely to cause serious delay and the potential to cause outright failure.
Typically, around 120 incidents occur in a typical month on the motorway, with over half of them occurring at rush hour.
The Department of Transport spokesperson indicated that, despite the indication that tolls could reduce demand on the M50 by about 20%, “10% of that reduction was attributable to traffic diverting onto roads which do not have the capacity to handle such increased volumes”.
They point to measures introduced by Transport Infrastructure Ireland since 2015 that would help to ease congestion levels.
These included revised merger layouts at junctions such as Finglas and Blanchardstown, enhanced coordination between bodies such as An Garda Síochana, Dublin Fire Brigade and the Motorway Traffic Control Centre, the mandatory variable speed limits project which is expected to complete in 2019.