Support team hired to help foreigners pay for tolls

Hopes that the A22 tolls may be suspended during the summer months, as proposed by some regional tourism entities, have been dashed as the national  road authority announced that 32 multilingual people are being hired to help foreigners pay for the electronic tolls on the former free-for-users SCUT roads.

The assistance being offered will complement a new payment system being implemented in mid-July.

“More than 25%” of the support team will be for the A22, said Estradas de Portugal, with the remainder deployed at the borders of Chaves (A24), Vilar Formoso (A25) and Cerveira (EN13/A28)

The employees, on a fixed short-term employment contract, will be on hand until the end of the high tourist season to inform visitors, particularly those in foreign-plated vehicles, on how to pay for the electronic tolls.  

The new payment system, which Estradas de Portugal has called “easy toll”, was announced in May and, according to the entity, will make paying for the electronic tolls easier and quicker for drivers in foreign-registered vehicles. They will be able to register with the system without stepping out of the vehicle.

The new equipment, now being installed at the entrance to the electronic toll roads, will allow for the registration of the driver’s bank card and its association to the number plate, which will be photographed by an automatic device. The whole operation, says Estradas de Portugal, should take “no more than 10 seconds”, does not require the bank card’s pin number, and a ticket serving as proof of payment will be issued by the machine.

Those drivers not in possession of a bank card will be directed by the support team, who will be fluent in English and Spanish, to the other payment machines already in place and shown how to pay for the tolls.

In the Algarve, the current system led to chaos during the Easter holiday season, as tourists, mostly Spanish, to enter the A22 road had to park their cars and queue to pay for the tolls. They then struggled to understand the payment procedures, describing the system as “confusing” and “ludicrous”.