CAR drivers are to be hit with massively higher toll charges of up to €3 on the notorious M50 motorway. The current charge of €1.90 for cars is going up to €2 from January.
But when barrier free tolling starts in August, drivers who do not have pre-paid tags in their cars will be charged up to €3 to use the traffic-clogged Dublin motorway.
Motorists with tags will pay €2, but those who do not have tags but instead set up a number plate account in advance with the toll operator will be charged €2.50 every time they take the M50.
However, the real sting in the tail is for drivers who neither have tags in their cars or who do not register them for a debit account.
Their registration plates will be photographed and the identities of the owners determined by the operators via the National Driver File. Then they will be sent bills for €3.
The NRA said a key component of its M50 improvement strategy was the removal of the West-Link toll plaza and replacing it with an electronic barrier-free tolling system.
To facilitate the transition from barrier tolling to the new electronic tolling system by August of 2008, a new toll scheme was needed.
The authority had been working on ways to identify alternative methods of payment for drivers without electronic tags who choose to use registered vehicle number plate accounts.
Alternative methods of payment were also needed for drivers without tags or registered vehicle number plate accounts.
"The new toll scheme is designed to facilitate and offer lower tolling costs if a vehicle utilises an electronic tag," said an NRA statement yesterday.
There will be no toll plaza or any physical barrier on the road. Cars can travel at normal motorway speeds under the overhead gantries.
These gantries will contain all of the vehicle detection and camera equipment required to record the vehicles passing under the gantries.
A computer based system linked to the National Vehicle and Driver File then provides the owner details for any vehicles who don't have electronic tags or who haven't a pre-registered account.
Under the new toll scheme there will be one single tolling point on the section of the M50 between the N3 (Navan Road) and N4 (Galway Road) junctions, adjacent to the current West-Link plaza.
Motorists who don't currently have electronic tags can register with any of the five existing operators. In addition, the NRA will itself offer a tag service from early next year.
People who don't wish to have an electronic vehicle tag but who wish to set up a payment account can, from early next year, register with the NRA's M50 operator.
However, for people who choose not to have electronic tag accounts or number plate based accounts, the registration number of the vehicle will be recorded when they make a journey along the tolled section of the M50.
They can make payment in advance of the journey, on the day of the journey or up to 8.00pm on the day after the journey on-line, through a 24 hour telephone contact centre, or a bill pay system in 2,000 shops and garages.