Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Portugal Motorways - Electronic tolls be very aware

Quote from post by Meathlady on Porto Forums of TripAdvisor.....

Full post here: "http://j.mp/9BBwXp"

"Electronic tolls be very aware - Nov 01, 2010, 4:14 PM

The Portuguese government in their wisdom have introduced electronic tolls on some of their motorways, we were caught out on our way to Porto. I do not mind paying tolls I do object when their is no way for visitors leaving the country to pay and have heard I am going to be levied a fine of 10 times the toll.

We collected hire care in Lisbon no mention from the car hire company of the new tolls, on heading to Porto noticed signed for electronic tolls, stopped in Porto to pay we were advised to go to the Post Office. Queued for 40 mins to be told we cannot pay for 2 days at the system does not operate in real-time.

Explained we were leaving the country and got a shrug of the shoulders, no option to pay over the internet. Were given the same information by the care hire company in Porto but they did tell me I would be fined.

So tourists beware travel on electronically tolls motorways at your peril. I will NOT be going back to Portugal anytime soon".

My reply:

"Oh Dear!

I am so sorry that you have had this experience.

It was only a matter of time!

The Portuguese Govt. has not thought through the impact of the introduction of the new electronically collected tolls on tourism. In their rush to raise revenue because of Portugal's dire economic situation, they have decided to implement electronic tolls on several motorways. They intend doing this on the A22 Algarve Spinal Motorway "the Via de Infante" as from April 15th 2010.

This past summer, the Algarve Economy was saved by a massive influx of Spanish Tourists. The alternative road, the famous EN125 is not up to handling the traffic volumes.

It is my estimation that we will see a drop of up to 50% of car based travel here in the Algarve in 2011 once the word gets out about this crassly throught out system which does not even have an option to pay tolls at a service area on Portuguese motorways.

Portugal has high unemployment but in an effort to "avoid" creating more jobs, the Government has decided to go for an electronic system rather than build toll booths where people can pay and employment would be created.

I had not intended to write about this for a few more weeks as there is always hope the Portuguese Govt. will realise the damage they are causing to desperately needed tourism but your post has spurred me to action.

Personally, as a local expert for Lagos, Algarve, I have to say that I do not
recommend people visiting the Algarve next year by car, unless you are prepared to take a lot of time using old roads. If you are flying into Faro, Airport and want to hire a car, think about taking a shuttle to your destination and then hiring a car locally. Alternatively, fly to Lisbon, take a train or bus down to the Algarve, enjoying the views en route, and then hire locally.

We still do not know the price level of the tolls here , but early indication are that on the A22 Via de Infante they will be high. I suspect that instead of raising funds as they intend, this electronic toll system will be a loss leader and cause great damage to Portugal's image as a friendly tourist destination, as well has having exactly the opposite effect in maintaining economic growth.

I am not against charging reasonable tolls to fund road maintenance but tolls should be realistic and user friendly which these new ones in Portugal are not."