Algarve's Via do Infante motorway "best avoided" this summer

a22While the Minister of Planning and Infrastructure, Pedro Marques decides whether he can be bothered to fulfil his government’s promise to reduce motorway toll rates this summer, the booths at the Guadiana bridge are preparing for the now traditional onslaught of foreign registered vehicles.

Infraestruturas de Portugal has deployed 10 people to stand at the Guadiana Bridge for eight week, and 17 more people at three other entry points, to show drivers how the easytoll machines work and try to answer questions from an incredulous public.

The official job description for this unenviable summer-long job placement is ‘to help tourists and emigrants with easytoll’ which, admits the company, is a system that usually generates long traffic jams at Portugal's entry points.

"Help and advice will be available from July 8th until September 4th, extended to September 11th at the Guadiana if necessary," says Infraestruturas de Portugal.

The employees will be there every day between 08:00 and 20:00 to "promote clarification and assistance to customers, to help people pay quickly and to ensuring adequate traffic conditions and traffic flow at the toll areas."

Infrastructuras de Portugal adds that there will be "a strengthening of the Call Center (707 500 501) which operates 24 hours/7days a week."

According to the company, "motorists driving in foreign-registered vehicles can easily use the national motorways where the tolls are exclusively electronic, and there are several solutions for the respective payment for the use of these routes."

Current options for toll payment include Easytoll, tollcard, tollservice, CTT, Payshop, online, rented or purchased transponder, via verde, prepay and temporary via verde.

"When planning your stay foreign tourists and emigrants visiting Portugal, can look online at www.portugaltolls.com, all information and answer questions about the payment of electronic tolls on national highways," chirps the annual press release from a company whose presidente admitted that the Algarve's stand-alone tolling system is an expensive mistake.

This annual announcement from Infraestrutuas de Portugal brings up the folly of having several different payment methods, the need for staff to standing on by a bridge all summer, the lack of charging interconnectivity for those wishing to enter Portugal in the Algarve and then travel north to Lisbon – many of whom in error use the Via Verde lanes -  the incompatibility of the A22 in-car transponders with other motorway charging systems in Portugal or Europe and the administration fees and ‘per journey’ charges added to an already expensive travel option.

The Spanish and many other foreigners are adept at leaving the A22 before tolls are charged and joining the EN125, thus increasing the eastern Algarve’s traffic beyond the capacity of the road syatem.

With extensive roadworks staring between Olhão and Vila Real de Santo António ‘in 2017’ and with no end in sight to the avaricious toll charging regime on the Via dio Infante, incomprehension, delays and bad tempers are predicted.

TripAdvisor comments, “The best advice is to simply avoid the A22 motorway, by using the EN125, it will be slower but not by that much and the element of hassle is therefore removed. However fuel consumption may be higher, thus negating the savings made by avoiding the tolls. Also there are considerable road improvement works taking place along the EN125 during 2016 and 2017, causing delays to traffic.”

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