Toll solution confusion

in News · 19-07-2012 14:48:00 · 25 Comments
Toll solution confusion

Two new payment systems have been put into practice for the former SCUT motorways, allowing drivers of foreign registered vehicles to either pay electronically with a credit or debit card or buy a prepaid card that is activated by text message. However, first reactions from users at the Spanish border this week were of confusion over the electronic payment system.

The new payment method for foreign registered vehicles was unveiled earlier this week by Sérgio Monteiro, Secretary of State for Public Works, stressing the chaos during the Easter holidays would now be a thing of the past.

With the new payment methods, Sérgio Monteiro said "the impact (of tolls) on tourism would be minimal and visitors can holiday in comfort," adding that the system would also result in an additional cash injection of "40 million to €50 million."

The new system features two methods of payment called ‘Easy Toll’ and ‘Toll Card’, developed by the national road company Estradas de Portugal in cooperation with the CTT postal service and electronic payment company UNICRE.

Easy Toll is available at border crossings into Portugal featuring or near a former SCUT motorway; Vila Formoso (A25), Vila Real de Santo António (A22), Chaves (A24) and Vila Nova de Cerveira (EN13). Machines have been installed for users to pay tolls and staff are available to provide information.

The Easy Toll system enables drivers of foreign registered vehicles to associate their number plate to a bank card for a period of up to one month, with toll charges being debited directly from their account.

During the first 15 days of this month, thousands of visitors used the Easy Toll system, with 2,841 people signing up along the A24, 3,839 along the A25, 815 on the EN13 national road and around 6,000 along the Algarve’s A22, road company EP said.

Toll Card meanwhile is a method whereby users can buy a card that is prepaid with five, ten, 20 or 40 euros, and can be activated and linked to a vehicle licence number by sending a text message.

Toll cards can be bought online, at post offices and motorway services stations.

These two new payment methods have been added to existing ones such as ‘Toll Service’ that comprises pre-paid trips for tourists and visitors (available in hotels) and the ‘Visitors’ device, similar to the electronic Via Verde system that is used for a predetermined period before being returned.

Despite the government’s insistence that the new payment methods are simple and easy to use, many visitors say they are confused or would prefer to pay with money rather than bank cards.

At the border crossing in the Algarve, it was found this week that many tourists needed up to five toll assistants to help them choose which payment method to use.

One visitor, José Navarro from Seville who came to Portugal for a three day stay in Albufeira opted for a pre-paid toll ticket with a fixed price of €20, but was surprised when he could not pay in cash and had to use a bank card instead.

"Aren’t there people who just have cash and no bank cards in Portugal? This is very complicated, why didn’t they install a normal toll payment system where those who drive through, pay?" he was quoted as asking by Lusa News Agency.

Another visitor, Jesus de la Rosa, who travelled from Zaragoza to spend 15 days in Andalucía asked why all foreign vehicles had to go into a car park.

When he was told it was to pay tolls, he asked why he couldn’t just take a ticket upon entry to Portugal and pay on his way out.

"I didn’t know there was this electronic system. I think I will get to the first exit, which isn’t paid, and turn my car around, I won’t be visiting Portugal," he told Lusa.

The general feeling at the border this week was one of confusion and doubt, with visitors not understanding the reasoning behind the electronic payment system.

Tolls on the SCUT motorways have also had the negative effect of increasing traffic on other free roads, none more so that along the EN125, which now takes double the length of travel time compared to the A22.

Travelling from Lagos to Vila Real de Santo António (VRSA) along the EN125 can now take over two and a half hours, with a series of congested areas, especially at roundabouts and traffic lights. The aim of an exercise this week by the Lusa News Agency was to attempt to stick to a speed ten kilometres under the national limit, but this was rarely reached on the EN125, where the average speed at rush hour is around 35 kilometres per hour.

The same 132-kilometres- journey along the A22 only takes one hour and ten minutes travelling at 120 kilometres per hour.

Despite the obvious benefits of travelling along the A22, the cost, which from Lagos to VRSA is €11,60 (or €23,20 return) is prohibitive for many residents and visitors.

Local residents have so far benefitted from 10 free trips per month along the formerly free SCUT motorways and a 15 percent discount on all subsequent trips, which have been extended until 30 September.

Following complaints from Aveiro Town Hall, as well as a number of protest groups, the European Commission declared these benefits to people and businesses residing within close proximity of the motorways to be discriminatory and therefore illegal, although charging tolls was not. The Commission ruled that this practice is in contravention of EU legislation and discriminates against fellow Europeans.

Last Friday, a notice was published in the Government Gazette, announcing a new toll discount system from October.

"From 1 October 2012, a new discounts and/or reduced tolls regime will come into effect for the former free SCUT motorways, to ensure the impact associated to the introduction of tolls on the regions served by these roads is lessened, which will conform to the laws of the European Union," read the notice.

Meanwhile, the Commission of Via do Infante (A22) Users, is still campaigning to end tolls on the formerly free SCUT motorways.

In a statement sent to The Portugal News this week, Commission leader, João Vasconcelos explained, "As we predicted, by introducing tolls on the Via do Infante, the government has transformed the Algarve into a war zone."

"Aside from the chaos of intense traffic, there are daily road accidents, many with serious injuries and deaths along the EN125," he added.

Members of the Commission have been remembering those who have lost their lives along the congested EN125 with memorial plaques and flowers.

In response to the introduction of the new toll payment methods that have come into effect this month, Mr. Vasconcelos says these are "causing a great deal of indignation, confusion and doubt at the border crossing near the Guadiana bridge."

"Because of this abominable system, many Spanish tourists drive along the A22 until the first exit, then turn around and leave," he said, adding that the Federation of Spanish Transporters (Fenadismer) has refused the new toll systems.


Have been visiting Portugal for many years hiring villas and cars this making us seriously consider going somewhere else do not need extra hassle and cost when going on holiday

by David from UK on 24-06-2013 09:39:00

what about motorhomers!
spent a wonderful 2 months in autumn 2011, was going to return early 2013.
will NOT now do so---go to costa de lutz instead!
camping turiscampo will suffer--one of the best we have stayed at in europe!!!

by waller from UK on 19-11-2012 02:38:00

Having opted for the 30 day arrangement when entering Portugal at Vila Formosa whereby the tolls get debited to your credit card I have now discovered that every time I passed a gantry there was an extra administrative charge of around 60 centimos over and above the advertised toll charge. This increases the cost of a journey by between 20% and 40%. Nowhere is this made clear. Only when you get home do you discover this.

Further you are not told what to do at the end of the 30 days. I must say I would Portugal in the future if I have the choice.

by Nicolas Bellord from UK on 29-10-2012 05:54:00

I had no idea that tolls had been introduced to Portuguese motorways. Crossing the boarder from the costa del sole, in exceedingly heavy rain, warnings of e-tolls were difficult to read and baffling. There are no further road side signs to say where to go to pay if you miss the chance on entry to Portugal. Seems to be ill thought out.

by Jeremy White from Porto on 27-10-2012 06:03:00

We have just booked our holiday in Lagos and are hiring a car. We usually visit every year but because of family illness did not go last year. Knew nothing about the tolls until an email from my car hire company after we booked. Seems like chaos - really not looking forward to it. The car hire company will not accept money for tolls and suggests we use non-toll roads for the 3 days prior to leaving Portugal as we will have no way of paying. WTF?!

by Ann from UK on 24-10-2012 04:03:00

I'm a long time visitor to Portugal - these tolls are badly thought out and expensive. Portugal needs tourism and the income it provides, these tolls are not helping.

by Bob Chambers from UK on 17-10-2012 01:45:00


by julio dos santos from Other on 07-10-2012 12:04:00


by JOE BLOGS from UK on 19-09-2012 01:41:00

Your country is a disgrace. The EU paid for the road to be built and now you make the people from the EU pay to use it. THis year will be my last visit until this illegal tax is removed.

by John Crazyface from UK on 12-09-2012 10:37:00

How can get the company your address when you have a foreign license plate ? That is only possible when this company has a agreement with a civil in your country, and they don't have it. So you never receive a letter from Portugal.

by Peter from Other on 06-09-2012 12:36:00

When you have a foreign license plate and you don’t have pay, it is impossibel that the company can collect his money. Untill now I have never heard that people in the foreign country have received a letter for to pay the tax. There is no contract between Portugal and the foreign country’s to collect the tax. So when you come from outside Portugal, with a foreign licence plate do nothing !!!!

by Peter from Other on 06-09-2012 11:55:00

I used to go to Aveiro for holidays. Sorry, but no more. This year we prefer Santander. I have no problems on paying for a highway, but not for any road you want me to pay for. Bye, bye, Portugal.

by Santiago Apellido from Other on 02-09-2012 08:22:00

I will pay the tolls if I required but please make it easier! Every country I visit has a system where cash can be used - except Portugal. I am not very happy about handing over credit card or debit card details. I also seldom have one with me unless for s specific purchase - but I always have cash Toll booths employ people and will easily pay for themselves. Scrap the existing system until booths can be installed

by p.savage from UK on 24-08-2012 02:54:00

Everything you have own use or eat arrives on the back of a lorry.

Fuel tax has increased the cost of everything for everyone.

And now the EU has added toll roads with fines ? another tax.

This additional cost will destroy you and your Country with hyper inflation and massive unemployment.

Just to finance the Billionair Bankers and Insurers €500 ,000,000 Million Euro Yachts, While the Portuguese people are starved into submission.

And are forced to take a job paid peanuts, can you live on 90 Euro a month.

This is what the EU and the Euro will do for You.

While Draghi Bails out the Banks, Again and Again and Again.

Until they have all your Money.

Fuel Tax and Tolls will defeat you if you let the EU have its way.

Protest and keep protesting.

But keep it peaceful and Dont give them your Money.

They HATE publicity so keep protesting.

Time will come when you can vote out and change the rats who are being paid money in black plastic bags.

To keep you in POVERTY.

by Gordan Finch from UK on 07-08-2012 06:20:00

We are currently using the easytoll system.
A more easy way to use the electronic toll pay system is not known to me so far!

by Joachim from Other on 26-07-2012 06:17:00

Good news finally "Easy Toll" and "Toll Card" !

If your entering the (A22) from Spain just take the first exit to Vila Real de Santo António and get your self onto the EN125 and live the spirit of beautiful holiday with nice food, beaches and sun.

Or just bite the bullet and stop complaining!

by Mario P Sagres from Algarve on 25-07-2012 10:20:00

OK so i got stuck on the EN125, a trip from Almancil to Guia (Leroy Merlin) usually takes me maybe 35 minutes, i have done it many times sometimes twice in one day but today it was a right royal car park and the traffic lights don't help, only letting a few cars through at at a time in a certain intersection in the middle of nowhere, imagine the pollution created in that area and the fuel burnt for no reason but reason fails in this country, oh by the way Welcome to Portugal

by Mr John from Algarve on 24-07-2012 11:41:00

How is it possible that when a system of payment is introduced that it is assumed by the organization that everyone has or uses a mobile phone?

by nigel from Lisbon on 24-07-2012 10:42:00

As a frequent visitor/fan of the Algarve, I 'd like only to say that the management of the ongoing motorway tolling affair just reinforces the views of people that Portugal is being run by a bunch of incompetents. For gods sake sort it. A prospective hire car user like myself must often be thinking why bother? We are all in no doubt about the general state of the finances in europe, and the need, to look at least, as if we're trying. Messing with the tourist industry seems an unhelpul step. Why not issue some sort of annual pass? whatever, something simple that works.. Sorry if I'm going over old ground. Sort it for us please. -t

by tom blamey from Madeira on 23-07-2012 07:51:00

congratulations must be paid to the genius in government who managed to clear the A22 of traffic.No road repairs,no accidents,no C O 2 emissions.oh,and no vehicles.Perhaps this genius can think of another use for this (road)piece of land..prettiest white elephant since the Algarve stadium

by gagan from Algarve on 22-07-2012 02:41:00

Our Company International media Unit travels to Portugal (Algarve region) every year for 3 months to base our work operations out of. With the new debacle over the toll system and the lack of any form of information, we will not being doing this now and relocating to the south of Spain instead, thus taking 25 staff, and 12 support staff with us for this period.

This seems nothing more then a quick cash grab by a Government desperate for money and nothing else. I feel sorry for the Portuguese locals who have to endure a Government more involved with increasing their own salaries and redesigning their plush Lisbon offices then the real concerns and problems of the population.

Very disappointed.

by Matthew Smyth from Other on 22-07-2012 01:21:00

We recently were informed by the Post Office in Ferragudo of the prepaid cards for foreign cars. It is such an easy system . The cards can be purchased in 5, 10, 20 or 40 euro denomination. You scratch a code on the card , send an SMS with your registration number and the code , after which you receive a confirmation of the registration of the card . You will then be sent a text when the credit is running low . Its that simple . The cards are valid for over 12 months and can only be used on the electronically controlled motorways (not Lisbon etc) If you have a foreign registered car its simple & easy to manage & no need for a transponder .

by PAM from UK on 21-07-2012 08:11:00

Before travelling to the Algarve, from the UK, there was zero information about the tolls on any of the websites associated with the legalities of what is required by each country. The confusion started when we stopped for fuel in Spain, and discovered that there was this new system for foreign registered vehicles, for which there were several options - some of which are punitive to say the least! When we got to the border, I asked to 'rent a tag' as this was going to the most cost effective for us as we were going to be in the country for 3 weeks. Tags were not available (I can only presume that they had sold out!!) and we were then told about the 'new and improved' system that has been put into place. The toll booth camera's didn't pick up my registation and the friendly assistant told me that I had to phone a number to get the license plate associated with the card which had been entered. At this point, I told him that he could sort it out now or I would carry on and fight the toll charges in court because the system did not work. 5 minutes later, we were on our way. This has to be the most ridiculous toll system I have ever encountered, and that includes the Congestion charges for driving in London!!

by T Sheehan from Algarve on 21-07-2012 04:13:00

What a complete mess. When will Governments learn that all tolls are grossly inefficient and massively expensive to run. They should all be scrapped and replaced by fuel levies which have zero collection costs and cause absolutely no inconvenience on the roads.

by P Perry from Alentejo on 21-07-2012 10:14:00

The a22 toll road is costing more and more day by day, why do'sent the goverment scrap it and stop digging into a deaper hole. Just put the road tax up by a small amount IE €5-00 euros. that way it be fair to every motorist and cost a lot less than the mess that their in at tne moment.

by John M Haigh from Algarve on 20-07-2012 06:03:00
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