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Sasko Lazarov
toll charges

Alternative option to toll increases will have to be found before the new year, says Tánaiste

Discussions are ongoing on how to alleviate the rising cost for commuters.

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said a solution to deal with the rising toll charges will have to be found before the kick in in the new year.

Speaking to reporters in Dun Laoghaire this morning, he said discussions are ongoing on how Government can “do something to alleviate or soften the blow with those toll increases”. 

Last Thursday, toll road operator Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) announced that it would be hiking toll prices on nine roads in line with inflation, with the M50 toll set to rise by 20 or 30 cent.

Varadkar previously said he was unhappy with the timing of the price hike, however Transport Minister Eamon Ryan said he was reluctant to reduce the charge if it ate into the public transport or road maintenance budget. 

The Tánaiste said that some people have to pay a lot of tolls, such as constituents in his own area, whole some don’t have to pay many tolls at all, depending on where they live. However, he said a lot of commuters are going over back and forth over toll bridges every day, particular in areas where they have very few alternative options.

“So we’re looking at options to alleviate those,” he said. It is believed that if the Government does step in to carry the costs, it could cost around €25 million. 

Varadkar said it is not a small amount of money – “it is a significant amount of money”. 

“We just need to work out options,” he said, stating that the coalition leaders haven’t really had a proper opportunity to sit down and talk about the matter in detail.

Ryan is making a “reasonable” point in saying that he doesn’t want to see the money taken out of the roads budget, said Varadkar. 

“That’s a budget that we need to maintain our existing road infrastructure so I can understand where he’s coming from in that regard,” he said. 

Speaking further about alleviating costs for people in the new year, Varadkar said the Government will assess where the country in terms of energy prices in 2023 to see if further action is needed. 

Much of what was announced in the budget has yet to kick in, he added, stating that there’s two more energy credits that people will see deducted from their electricity bills. 

“We will review the situation later in the year to see whether we need to extend and do more,” he said, adding that with the windfall tax there will be additional resources available to the Government.

“We can use that to provide further help for households and businesses next year. But it’s too soon to make that call now. We need to see where we stand in terms of energy prices, whether they’re going up or down or staying the same and we also also need to see where we stand economically, more broadly. So we can’t make that decision at this stage,” said the Tánaiste.

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