DRIVERS have been hit with a further rise in the cost of motoring with tolls increasing by at least 10 cent from January.
The move will put further pressure on motorists who were hit with higher motor tax bills in last week's Budget, and is coupled with soaring fuel prices and a levy on motor insurance policies.
The price of a litre of petrol is 161.2c, compared with 149.5c in November last year, while diesel has risen to 156c in the same period, up from 144.7c.
And now it has emerged that most tolls are going to rise next year, although there are a few exceptions.
Although the toll on Dublin's M50 will rise by 10c, there will be no change in tolling rates in the Dublin Port Tunnel and on the East Link Bridge.
The only other road that will not see an increase for cars is the M3; however, there is a 10c rise for coaches and heavy goods vehicles.
Inflation rose by 2pc in the last year and the tolling contracts between the State and private operators allow for tolls to be increased when inflation rises. When it falls, the prices are reduced. The last toll increases were in 2011. The NRA must approve rises.
"These increases are in line with inflation," an NRA spokesman said.
"The toll charge, for example, on the M50 has not changed since 2008 and it's the same in money value as today.
"This increase keeps the value of the toll as neutral, as it's tied in with inflation."
The NRA said that tolls were being increased on the M50 to help meet the cost of buying out the private company that owned the road until 2008.
National Toll Roads would be paid €50m a year until 2020, and the payments were linked to inflation, the spokesman said.
"We have to pay back the debt to NTR based on the consumer price index. As the inflationary value increases, we have to keep stationary with that.
"If we didn't increase the tolls, the taxpayer would be out of pocket."
He added that tolls in the Dublin Port Tunnel were not increased because it was a special case and not commonly used by private motorists.
The increased tolls on the M3 and Limerick Tunnel come despite the State already paying the operators more than €6m a year because traffic volumes are lower than expected.
The annual "traffic guarantee payments" will be paid to the M3 contractor until 2025, and until 2041 in the case of the Limerick Tunnel. Total payments could reach €142m.