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Hidden toll idea gives me road rage

With all these business big wigs going bust, it must surely be a good time to get a helicopter on the cheap.

God knows, commuters are going to need some alternative to travelling the new tolled M3.

Commandeering a chopper may well work out as economic as stumping up nearly €12 a day to pay the tolls on a return trip from Kells to Dublin.

That's the equivalent of throwing a 10-cent piece out the window of your car every single kilometre of that 120km total drive. (Or €2,600 a year for a Monday-to-Friday commute, if you prefer the bigger picture).

There is always the new train to Navan of course -- as long as you don't live north of that town and can wait until 2015.

But even the helicopter plan has a catch (Just the one, you ask?). Even if you manage to persuade some snivelling developer to part with his old Bell chopper for a knockdown price, you might end up paying the M3 road toll anyway.

The bright sparks in charge of negotiating the Government's deal with the private company who will manage the M3 tolls have allowed them to insert a "minimum traffic" agreement into the contract.

That means that the company, Eurolink, will be compensated by the Government if the number of motorists using the M3 falls below target. Not that we know what that target is. Nobody in the National Roads Authority wants us to know.

Difference

Suffice to say that if we motorists don't stump up and use the road to the level envisaged by Eurolink, then they will be looking for the Government to make up the difference.

And by the Government, of course, that doesn't mean Brian Cowen will have to personally shoulder the burden.

It means every taxpayer will take the hit, even the ones who chose not to use the overpriced piece of tarmac in the first place. Seriously, what kind of buffoon signs off on a contract like that?

There cannot be another business in this country that is guaranteed to be kept afloat by the Government in the middle of a recession, which is essentially what they are promising in this case (I would mention NAMA here if I wasn't in danger of exploding into angry boils).

People don't like your product? Don't worry, we'll bridge the gap for you until they buy into it.

The advice generally given to anyone opening even a sweet shop is to get yourself on to a FAS small business course double quick.

Learn the essentials before you put so much as a price tag on a Curly Wurly.

They're not the only ones who could do with a crash course in the fundamentals of enterprise.

The problem with the Department of Transport, the NRA, and pretty much every section of Government that has its fingers in our collective till is that they haven't a scrap of business nous between them.

Remember how delighted people were to give George Lee a vote because he is an actual qualified economist? And he's stuck on the Opposition bench!

But it doesn't even take a genius business mind to have some common sense.

Revolutionary

If anyone in Leinster House had their eyes open, they would see the large 'Sale' signs in shop windows all over the city.

The revolutionary idea is this: If custom is falling, you find other ways of getting punters in. You slash prices, come up with special offers, find a way to tempt them through the door.

If the M3 is short of traffic, it will be because drivers would rather find the longest, windiest back road to Dublin than pay a ludicrous toll fee.

Why the NRA feels the need to back up such greed instead of ordering a toll price cut is beyond me.