Monday 14 October 2019

'Fuel is becoming an easy target in the budget, but many people have no choice but to drive' - motorist on carbon tax hike

Stephen Curtis commutes from Leixlip to Bray every day
Stephen Curtis commutes from Leixlip to Bray every day

Aoife Walsh

Motorists are an “easy target” in the Budget because they have no choice but to pay expensive fuel prices, a commuter has said.

Stephen Curtis (32), drives from Leixlip in Co Kildare to Bray, Co Wicklow, across the M50 each morning for work.

He pumps around €50 worth of fuel in to his diesel car each week, but he expects that to increase due to the two-cent-per-litre hike.

He feels that the Budget will always target motorists, as they have no choice but to purchase petrol or diesel if they haven’t got access to public transport.

“I commute across the M50 pretty much every day during the week, and I’m driving a bit around the country for work and stuff like that, driving to meetings, driving to meet people and all that kind of stuff,” he told Independent.ie.

 “I’d be doing a fair bit of mileage during the year.

“I’ve a diesel car, it’s not too bad on diesel but I’d probably be putting the guts of €50 in it every week.

“It’s probably going to add multiple euros being added on each year when fuel is already pretty expensive.

“It maybe could of been integrated a bit better, maybe introduced at a lower rate for the first year and then up it and up it and up it,” he said.

Stephen feels fuel has become a go-to for price increases, “like cigarettes and alcohol”.

“It’s kind of one of those things, like cigarettes and alcohol. They’re kind of easy targets. 

“So like, people who have to drive to work, they still have to drive to work tomorrow. They have to. They’ll pay it.

“There’s no real way around it. You can’t just avoid it, so everyone just gets on with it.

“If you don’t have a public transport alternative, you’re probably driving anyway,” he added.

He said that although the carbon tax increase was supposed to act as incentive for people to swap their private cars for public transport, those who have the option of public transport are probably already using it.

“If you have a public transport alternative you’re probably using it anyway.

“There’s a bunch of people that are kind of sitting ducks really, and there’s nothing they can do about it.

“It will be interesting in years to come if they keep lashing it up like they do with cigarettes every year. We’ll see what happens over the next couple of years I guess.

He continued: “It’s probably going to have a big impact on people with diesel cars.

Mr Curtis said people were encouraged to buy diesel cars because the tax regime began to favour them.

However, motorists are now “stuck” with them, and left to face “painful” fuel costs.

“A lot of people bought diesel cars because that was the logic at the time.

“We’re now stuck with them, so if diesel starts to go up it’s going to be a bit painful for everyone.

“We were all kind of told the road tax is lower with diesel, so buy a diesel.

“And then all of a sudden, a few years later they turned around when the cars are five or six years old and say we’re going to start taxing you again now.

“Cars have a cycle and when the tax regime was designed to favour diesel cars.

“They should let those cars work their way out of the system before putting any more taxes on them,” he added.

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