This is very welcome news for Monaghan people and I do not begrudge them their good fortune. It is particularly good news for those who commute to work in Dublin. However, it highlights the Government’s total inconsistency when it comes to its policy on tolling. It now has three different tolling policies for major motorway projects servicing the north-east, and indeed Cavan/Monaghan.
We are now faced with the bemusing situation whereby Monaghan people who choose to use the M1 bypassing Drogheda are charged one toll while those in Cavan who travel to work in Dublin via the new M3 will face two tolls, a double cost which has no precedent in Ireland and heavily discriminates against Cavan people.
It behoves local public representatives and central Government to explain why the Drogheda bypass is tolled, and the new M3 motorway will be tolled twice, while at the same time other road users in the north-east will pay no charges if they use the M2. Coming in the week of the Meath by-election, which proved disastrous for the Government parties, one wonders if the M2 announcement had a political motivation? The Government must abandon tolls on the M3 and the Drogheda by-pass because they will discriminate against commuters from other parts of the north-east.
Cavan commuters using the M3 will end up paying an average of at least €11 a day in toll fees by the time the motorway is constructed and, in effect, will be taxed €220 a month for the basic right of going to work.
We need an urgent review of how we finance the building of our roads.
Time after time the motorist is being hit, but the revenue gathered from motor tax, VRT and VAT on cars and fuel taxes does not automatically go to the upkeep of our road network.
National and non-national road improvements cost €1.7bn in 2004, but the income from motor taxation is more than twice that, at €3.8 billion.
These figures are a scandal which exposes why there is no case whatsoever for tolled roads. The monies already raised by the Government from hard-pressed motorists should be ploughed back into the construction and maintenance of vital transport infrastructure.
Sean McKiernan Jnr