5 December 2016, The Irish News.
THE signs may say ‘No Sterling’ but it turns out you can pay the M1 toll with either euro or sterling coins.
Motorists heading to Dublin for business or pleasure are all-too familiar with the need to have the €1.90 toll to hand after crossing the border.
Signs leading up to the booths on the Gormanston to Monasterboice stretch of motorway also proclaim in red, block capital letters that only euro can be used.
However, toll booth operators have now confirmed anecdotal evidence that sterling coins are accepted at a manned kiosk.
And by the the end of next year, automated machines which accept correct change are due to be updated to accept both currencies.
Tolls were introduced on the route following completion of a bypass of Drogheda in 2005.
The current fee for a car is €1.90, which is the same amount charged in sterling at the kiosk.
The toll rises to between €3.40 and €6.10 for goods vehicles.
SDLP transport spokesperson Daniel McCrossan last night branded the confusion over the payment system a “disgrace”.
“The toll bridge on the M1 does create unnecessary problems,” he said.
“The fact that payment is possible in sterling is not advertised is a disgrace and it is also a disgrace that sterling is accepted at a rate of 1:1.
“Many people are having to go to take out €5 euro notes just to pay the €1.90 fee.
“The toll companies in the south need to start appreciating northern custom and northern travellers. Advertising that they take sterling at all booths is a small step in that regard.”
Lorcan Wood, general manger of the Celtic Roads Group, which manages the toll bridges, said the ‘no sterling’ signs are in place as there is “no explicit requirement” for it to accept sterling.
“The goal is to make everybody’s journey as quick as possible, so we made it possible to pay by sterling through a separate booth,” he said.
“But this is something we’re going to look at and, right now, the problem is that the machines aren’t calibrated to accept sterling coins.
“Hopefully by the end of next year when we have updated our equipment, we will be able to accept sterling in this way.”
Other toll bridges in the Republic, such as those operating on the M50 around Dublin, have been removed in favour of an online payment system to help ease congestion.
Motorists have to pay the charge online, by phone or in shops by 8pm the following day to avoid a penalty.