AA critical of keeping toll on East Link bridgeThursday 31 December 2015 22.24
The AA has criticised the decision to keep charging a toll on Dublin's East Link Bridge, even though it comes back into public ownership today.
In a statement Dublin City Council said that it was always intended to keep the toll as a revenue stream.
City councillors voted to accept the advice of officials and retain the toll as a revenue stream because the bridge is facing upgrading and maintenance costs.
But Conor Faughnan of the AA said motorists are already contributing huge amounts of revenue through road tax, VRT and VAT.
He said there was "no justification" for keeping the toll and questioned why the East Link is the only bridge in Dublin to have one.
Councillors voted to keep the toll - which is currently €1.75 for a car - after a report from officials pointed out the costs of lifting it.
These included the loss of a potential €4m a year in revenue, maintenance costs of €200,000 a year, the demolition of the toll booth plaza which would cost €850,000, the loss of €700,000 in rates and the loss of contribution to local projects, which amounts to €124,000 a year.
The bridge also has to be upgraded for pedestrians and cyclists.
The 22 staff working on the toll booth would also lose their jobs.
The decision on whether to keep the toll rests with councillors and it is expected that it may be reviewed in the New Year, and it could also be reduced.
There were also concerns from councillors about increased traffic levels in Sandymount and East Wall if there was no toll on the East Link.
The bridge was opened in 1984 under a 30-year public private partnership.
The income had been split between the City Council who got 17%, the Dublin Port Company (25%) and the Dutch operating company DIF (58%). Now the council gets 100%.
Traffic levels peaked in 2008 at 22,000 vehicles a day but it is now down to around 16,000.
Officials say the reduction was due to the opening of the Samuel Beckett Bridge, the M50 upgrade and the reduction in construction traffic.