Electronic road toll revenue from foreign cars soars in Portugal. Plus, how to cope with the country’s ‘Easytoll’ motorways.
Also, Rome’s anti-car mayor falls foul of Low Emission Zone fines. A winter check on trucks in Austria shows nearly full compliance. A car stolen in the UK is tracked in real-time to Poland thanks to Operation Trivium. Turkey to introduce congestion charging. The Czech Republic is the latest country to sign up to the EU’s ‘cross-border prosecution for traffic offences’ directive.
COPING WITH PORTUGAL’S ‘EASYTOLL’ MOTORWAYS
Eye-watering toll charges rake in revenue from foreign drivers.
Electronic toll charges collected from foreign cars are up 27% so far in 2014 compared to the same period last year.
The east-west A22 Via do Infante in the Algarve, southern Portugal, saw an increase of 32% according to The Portugal News today.
With total revenue topping just €5.4m it’s still relatively small beer and, as Portuguese road tolls are so expensive (see below), hardly represents a rush of tourist drivers.
Since four motorways were converted to electronic-only tolling at the end of 2011, special arrangements are in place for foreign-registered vehicles.
While the rest of the network works on the manual pay-as-you-go principle – exactly like France or neighbouring Spain – on the A22 in the south, and A23, A24 and A25 in the north, foreign drivers must register their vehicles and payment details.
It’s a very slick system. Drivers merely pull up at clearly-signed ‘foreign vehicle’ booths when first entering the ‘Easytoll’ network and insert a credit/debit card. The number plate is recorded via ANPR and matched to the car each time it passes a sensor (not a toll plaza as such but at gantries above the road). Toll charges are debited directly from the user’s bank account.
Drivers can also buy a three day, unlimited ‘TollService’ pass just for use on EasyToll roads for €20, or a pre-pay ‘TollCard’. Frequent visitors can rent a Via Verde auto toll transponder to use free-flow VVV lanes. For more information see the official Portugal Tolls website.
The charges themselves are very high by European standards. Our recent 765km drive, south to north via Lisbon – including €6.10 for the Vasco da Gama bridge into the capital – cost €94.65 (not including 90km of electronic charges yet to register).
So far that represents a minimum twelve cents per kilometre compared to an average seven cents on French motorways.
roundup: the CZECH REPUBLIC is the 21st country to adopt the EU ‘Cross-border exchange of information on road safety related traffic offences’ directive. Police statistics say 10% of traffic offences were committed by foreign drivers last year according to the Prague Post. Just four countries, including Italy, apparently, are yet to adopt the new rules which allow drivers to be prosecuted at home for offences committed in other EU countries. See more here. POLICE say contacts made during Operation Trivium – the campaign to detect crime committed by foreign nationals on UK roads, last held in October – allowed officers to track a car stolen in the Midlands as it drove at high speed across the Continent. A Mercedes C200 hired at East Midlands Airport was stopped as it arrived in Lodz, Poland. The car has now been returned. TURKEY. Plans to introduce congestion charging in areas of Istanbul and capital Ankara were unveiled by PM Erdogan yesterday. No time frame was given. The proposals are already proving controversial says Hurriyet Daily. Meanwhile, Today’s Zaman calls it ‘the government’s new plan to restrict daily life in Istanbul’. ITALY. Anti-car Rome mayor Ignazio Marino – ‘Mayorino’ – is in trouble for not paying low emission zone fines. The Fiat Panda-driving, bike-mad former heart surgeon – who controversially pedestrianized the Colosseum and the Spanish Steps – has only paid two of ten €80 fines for crossing the ZTL boundary with an expired permit says thelocal.it. See more about Italy’s ZTL zones here. AUSTRIA. A spot check on the A21 in Vienna yesterday found 90% of trucks were complaint with winter rules. Unlike passenger cars, which only need winter tyres in wintry conditions, trucks 3.5t+ need winter tyres on at least drive axles from 1 November to 15 April (see more). Almost all the trucks had winter tyres, but 45 out of the 450 inspected lacked snow chains which drivers must also carry.