Friday 23 February 2018

NRA denies pay bonus for toll staff

CONFUSION surrounds so-called 'bonus' payments to toll collectors on Dublin's M50 motorway after the State spending watchdog revealed they were being paid extra just to do their job, writes Paul Melia.

The C&AG said BetEire Flow, which is paid €20m a year to operate the tolling system, was entitled to a performance bonus if 95pc of all payments were correctly processed.

But the National Roads Authority (NRA) last night insisted this was not a bonus payment. A spokesman said the company was obliged to get the payments system right 95pc of the time, or face financial penalties. The C&AG said the 'bonus' system was structured to incentivise the operator to secure payment from all road users.

"The operator is eligible for a performance bonus where the relevant target (of 95pc of all transactions) has been achieved or exceeded," the report said.

"The bonus arrangements are structured to incentivise the operator with higher payments. Where the targets are not met, the operator incurs a deduction in payments."

But the NRA denied a bonus system was in force. "The only reason the term bonus is used is because penalty clauses are difficult to institute in legal contracts," a spokesman said.

"The incentive is you won't lose money if you do the job, but you will if you don't."

The toll barriers were removed in August 2008, when a new barrier-free system was introduced.

Cameras capture vehicle number plates, and users have until 8pm the day after the journey is made to pay.

The C&AG said in its first year of operation, almost 33 million journeys were made on the motorway, generating €77m in revenue -- an increase of 17pc on the previous year.

Of this, €10m was made up of penalties for late or non-payment. Some 270,000 journeys -- about three days' traffic -- were 'lost' due to technical issues.

Irish Independent

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