By SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]
Via Verde, the entity responsible for managing the electronic tolls in Portugal, has said that no literature about the system is to be made available in English.
Instead, said a spokesman at a twice-delayed press conference in Faro yesterday (Friday) attended by just two journalists, English-speaking residents would have to contact the Via Verde hotline on 707 500 900, where, the company said, an employee will be able to assist them in English.
Franco Caruso of Via Verde also said that for those finding it difficult to locate a transponder for their car at CTT post offices, there are Via Verde stores based in Portimão (temporary) , Faro and Tavira (temporary) plus MSCar and ACP, the Automobile Club of Portugal.
He confirmed that motorists will be charged a fee of 7.3 cents per kilometre, excluding tax, and that legally registered residents are entitled to 10 free trips per month and a further 15% discount on all other trips for a limited time.
Franco Caruso added “A trip may include all distance covered from the start to finish point of a journey, or defined by a provided amount of time allocated, which is still to be decided.”
When asked to expand on this, he did not.
And foreign residents and tourists who use a rental car will also have to pay to use the A22 – but the way in which they do so “cannot be confirmed by me,” said Franco Caruso.
We’d love to have told you more but….
By MIKE ALMOND, Publishing Director
By keeping members of the press waiting for more than five hours and then refusing to allow reporting of much of what was said, the company responsible for managing the toll system let down every resident of the Algarve.
After months of delay over a start date, conflicting evidence, confusing information and little clarity, here was an opportunity for Via Verde to finally inform residents, via the media, of the facts.
The press conference was initially scheduled for 11am at the Hotel de Faro, then switched to noon and finally, as our reporter prepared to enter the conference room just before noon, to 3pm.
When asked for the reason for the last delay, a Via Verde spokesman apologised for the inconvenience and said the person who was due to address the members of the press had “put the wrong type of petrol in his car” on the way to the Algarve and it was necessary to delay the meeting.
The spokesperson, Franco Caruso, eventually arrived at just after 4pm to address the two members of the press who had waited – our reporter and a journalist from Portuguese daily Correia da Manha.
He then proceeded to negate the whole point of a press conference (newspapers get relevant information which they then communicate to their readers) by insisting that much of what was said was “off the record”, i.e. just between the three people present.