carnaval_de_loule9.jpg

Tolls are on the way

By PAULO SILVESTRE & DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]

Electronic toll tag devices for foreign plated vehicles are already available at the Olhão service station along ​​the A22.

This, and the Portuguese government’s rejection of a request by opposition parties to cancel tolls, is seen as a sure sign that the implementation of tolls is imminent.

National roads company Estradas de Portugal has issued instructions on how drivers of foreign-plated vehicles can purchase either pre-paid tickets or electronic toll tag devices.

Foreign-registered vehicles have several payment options in order to be able to circulate on the A22.

Drivers of foreign-registered vehicles do not need to buy a toll tag if they opt to buy a prepaid ticket, suitable for people who are making a temporary visit to the Algarve.

Prepaid tickets can be bought for three days and have the cost of €20.62 for cars and motorcycles. These tickets give drivers an unlimited number of trips on motorways that use the electronic toll system only. Motorways with electronic tolls will be clearly marked for drivers with a sign saying ‘electronic toll only’.

Drivers can also opt for a five day prepaid ticket which costs from €10.62 for cars and motorcycles, and €20.62 for heavy commercial vehicles. Five day tickets entitle drivers to a limited number of trips. The number of trips is according to the deposit amount paid and can be topped up at Post Offices, Payshops or at ATMs.

For drivers intending to use the A22 for up to 90 days a prepaid ticket can be bought in conjunction with the acquisition of a electronic toll tag device.

This option allows drivers to acquire a temporary prepaid toll tag on a rental basis. A refundable cash deposit fee of €27.50 will be charged for the toll tag rental. Drivers then have to pay an additional minimum charge of €10 for cars and motorcycles and €20 for heavy commercial vehicles to be able to use the electronic toll road.

This prepaid system is valid for 90 days and can be renewed for another 90 days with the minimum prepaid value of €10 (recharges made through ATM services may take up to 48 hours).

When returning the undamaged toll tag (tag plus bracket/holder, plus deposit fee receipt) within 30 days of purchase, the deposit amount paid is refunded minus a weekly charge depending on the length of time the driver has had the toll tag.

A rental fee will be charged according to the period of use: €6 on the first week and €1.5 for each of the following weeks.

Drivers can access the electronic toll receipts at portagens.ctt.pt, by using an activation key provided with the deposit fee receipt.

Drivers must install, use or dispose of the toll tags in accordance to Estradas de Portugal instructions making sure to use it in vehicles that are of the same class as the tag.

For more information, drivers can call 707 262 626 or go to a Post Office.

Algarve citizens and local business owners will be entitled to toll exemptions for the first 10 trips of the month and 15% discount on the following monthly trips in a temporary time period yet to be confirmed by the government.

Meanwhile, opposition political parties expressed their concerns about the introduction of tolls on the remaining SCUT roads, the A22, A23, A24 and a stretch of the A25, in Parliament. However, the Socialist Party (PS) led by Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho has voted against proposals presented by the PCP and BE.

In the Algarve, organisations involved in the fight against the introduction of tolls on the A22 announced another slow march protest on October 8 along the EN125 starting from 3pm. The meeting point will be at Parque das Cidades on the road between Faro and Loulé.

The Comissão de Utentes da A22 (A22 users’ commission) expects the protest to be the largest ever.

In Spain, the Parliament of Andalusia agreed on September 5 to urge the Spanish Government to use all means in its power to fight the implementation of tolls on the Algarve’s A22.

The Andalusian Parliament is expected to present a complaint to the European Union, claiming that the measure will worsen the economic development of both countries.

The Spanish have also requested a study is carried out by the Portuguese government before the measure comes into operation to assess the negative impact on the countries’ economies.

Meanwhile, British citizens looking for advice on the tolls from the British Embassy in Portugal will need to wait until a date for the tolls is confirmed.

A spokesman from the British Embassy told the Algarve Resident: “We are aware of the plans to introduce tolls and will consider in due course whether this is a matter that requires being updated to the travel advice section for Portugal by the FCO.”