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Motorway madness in Portugal

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Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by Tony Bennett on 21.05.12 7:45

A resident of Lymington, Hampshire, has filed this report:

Motorway madness in Portugal


14 May, 2012 - Letters



Mike Beggs is a regular business traveller to Europe and he has watched the European project break down into chaos over the last few years. This is his report on his recent trip to Portugal.

I have just returned from a business trip to Portugal with a potential fine of €27 (£25) and a possible Portuguese Police criminal record. So what was my crime? I hired a car from Hertz and drove it on the new motorway, paid for by an EU grant!

In September 2011 the EU imposed an austerity package on Portugal. This included putting high tolls on the excellent motorway system. But the Portuguese had never before charged motorway tolls, so there are no toll booths to be able to collect the money.

Under a directive from the EU, the Portuguese Government overcame this by installing cameras along the motorways, telling all Portuguese number plate motorists that they must pay the tolls. But how?
They must go to the Post Office after 2 days – but before 5 days, to pay cash.

Clearly this programme, like so many other mad EU schemes, will not work and especially for those hiring cars. The result is that no Portuguese driver uses the motorways. They are deserted, empty of traffic! But the ordinary roads are overloaded and the town centres are chaotic. The ordinary roads are breaking up, but road works are all cancelled because of the EU ‘austerity measures’. Business is suffering and the chances of economic recovery are receding.

But how does this affect me and any other visitors to Portugal this year? Well, I collected my rental car at 7 p.m. at the airport and drove to my hotel. Dutifully, 2 days later I went to the Post Office.

I asked what I owed for one short trip. The counter lady advised “Your car was used for three motorway journeys that day, you owe €9.90”. She wanted me to pay for the previous hirer who, quite logically, left on a plane earlier that day!

When I refused to pay for someone else’s tolls I was told “You will get a fine and a criminal record!”
She would not accept part payment – what I owed, so I left without paying anything.

But this left another problem. I still had to drive back to the airport on the motorway to return the car so how would I pay. I asked the staff at Hertz. Their advice was “It is best that you don’t use the motorway on the last 2 days of your stay in Portugal”. But the only way to get there and not miss my plane was to drive on the motorway.

At the airport I went to the Post Office. I asked to pay for the trip and she said “the system is crazy – you have to come back in two days to pay for it, because the scanning equipment does not advise us until then”! I left the Post Office unable to pay for the trip I had made.

When I handed the car back to Hertz, I told the manager what happened. He gloomily explained “Well, you will get a fine and a criminal citation in about 5 month’s time”.

So, my recommendation is:

Don’t travel to Portugal where EU austerity equals empty motorways, traffic chaos elsewhere, and an impossibly mad system for the collection of motorway tolls from overseas visitors.

Michael Beggs

Lymington

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by Miraflores on 21.05.12 9:38

I don't know whether the article is trying to denigrate Portugal as being a stupid, backward country, or is talking about the effect of the cuts taking place.

The sensible way round that would be to get the Hire car company to pay
the tolls, and bill the person who hired the car accordingly. I wouldn't
have thought that it was too difficult to do.

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EU. stupidity

Post by Tony Bennett on 21.05.12 10:00

@Miraflores wrote:I don't know whether the article is trying to denigrate Portugal as being a stupid, backward country...
No, not at all. It is basically an attack on E.U. stupidity, building motorways without tolls. They think this makes the E.U. look good, there is probably a big sign somewhere with the dreaded golden garotte on it saying 'This project is financed by the European Union'.

P.S. Latest opinion poll: 60% of Brits want to leave the UK, only 40% want to stay in. Why as many as 40%? What is there to stay in for?

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by tigger on 21.05.12 10:20

@Tony Bennett wrote:
@Miraflores wrote:I don't know whether the article is trying to denigrate Portugal as being a stupid, backward country...
No, not at all. It is basically an attack on E.U. stupidity, building motorways without tolls. They think this makes the E.U. look good, there is probably a big sign somewhere with the dreaded golden garotte on it saying 'This project is financed by the European Union'.

P.S. Latest opinion poll: 60% of Brits want to leave the UK, only 40% want to stay in. Why as many as 40%? What is there to stay in for?

I think it should simply have been trade agreements - easing of charges and similar taxes on imported goods in all countries. Making it political was imo stupid.

As far as sensible rules go: one can travel on public transport by buying a card and charging it up. If one wants to buy a single ticket, there is a machine inside one of the carriages.
The notice on it states that 'if your chipcard does not work, or if this machine is out of order, you are still required to have a valid travel ticket or you will be fined.'
As one would already be traveling by the time one would discover the machine to be out of order, it is hard to avoid this fine. There is in fact no way to buy a ticket in advance anywhere.

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by PeterMac on 21.05.12 11:28

@Tony Bennett wrote:
P.S. Latest opinion poll: 60% of Brits want to leave the UK, only 40% want to stay in. Why as many as 40%? What is there to stay in for?
Those 40% are illegal immigrants !

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by Newintown on 21.05.12 12:49

@PeterMac wrote:
@Tony Bennett wrote:
P.S. Latest opinion poll: 60% of Brits want to leave the UK, only 40% want to stay in. Why as many as 40%? What is there to stay in for?
Those 40% are illegal immigrants !

Darn, PeterMac, you beat me to it. I was just about to post that until I got to the bottom of the page.

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by Guest on 21.05.12 14:23

same rules in Hungary, on the motorways from Budapest. Got a nice fee after the vecation. Dont think I got a criminal record tough !

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by notdeadfred on 22.05.12 16:05

I live in Portugal, and agree it is total chaos for any visitors. As a resident here I have a Via Verde box on my car, so pass through all toll booths/gantrys without any problem, the fee is simply deducted from my bank account. As for anyone hiring a car here or driving across the border it's a nightmare, no explanations and NO thought at all for tourists.

Trade in the bars restaurants have dropped remarkably due to the Spanish not now nipping over the border for lunch or a day out etc.

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by PeterMac on 22.05.12 16:14

When I drove to PdL, I used my wife's car !!!!!!

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Re: Motorway madness in Portugal

Post by joyce1938 on 22.05.12 16:33

i know how you mean,we were in tavira a littlte time ago ,dare not us the motorway, had to get to and fro airport via 125,busy roed and much slower to get to airport.If we would dare to use motorway we risk getting fined or car hire taking what they wanted to pay for road use from credit card onfo. so we hardly used the hire car ,complete waste of money ,so we will not be going back till this is resolved,we normally go twice a year,not this year.we love portugal as a place but cant afford this rubbish. joyce1938

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