First Real Toll Concessions

Brisa, Lusoponte and Auto-Estradas do Atlântico were the first real toll concessions in Portugal.

Since 1972, Brisa - Auto-Estradas de Portugal S.A. has played a key role in bringing Portugal's once-neglected transportation infrastructure up to date. The company, which holds the largest road concession granted by the Portuguese government, operates the country's main network of tolled motorways.

Since 1998, Lusoponte is the concessionaire of the highways crossings of the river Tagus in Lisbon (Vasco da Gama and April 25th Bridges) and Autoestradas do Atlântico is the concessionaire of the Oeste Region Concession. In 1999, the North Concession, connecting Vila do Conde, Braga and Guimarães, was awarded to Ascendi Norte.


New Real Toll Concessions

From 1999 until 2007, some toll motorway tenders were launched by the Portuguese State, all foresaw a return to real tolls and an upfront payment to the State.

The risk allocation was also modified as expropriation risk was passed to the Concessionaire, namely due to the experience gathered from previous projects for which the State assumed far more compensations than initially expected.

Furthermore, two projects (Grande Lisboa and Douro Litoral) experimented a mix of greenfield and brownfield, requiring upgrading, operating and maintaining existing roads for a period of five years with no toll collection, combined with a thirty year concession for the new construction stretches with real toll.


The Subconcession Model and Mega State-Owned Concession

In late 2007 and early 2008, the Portuguese toll road market underwent a major transformation, from the previous model where EP - Estradas de Portugal acted as National Authority and Grantor to a new model where EP acts as Concessionaire, leaving its previous role a new road regulator.

With this change, the whole state-owned road network was transformed into a 75 year road concession that is now responsible for all new tenders, as they would become its own Sub-Concessions.

The old paradigm changed: where the privates usually had to deal with traffic risk, those subconcessions (private) only collect tolls, by means of exclusively electronic toll collection, deliver them directly to EP and are rewarded by both operational service (traffic-related) and availability payments (fixed in time and value). In this new layout, the regulator acts both as a Grantor for Concessionaires both Public (EP) and Private.


The Availability Payment Model and the Sub-Concessions

In 2007, together with important changes to the concession model for the road sector, EP issued a new set of tenders.

Revolutionizing the previous model, major changes were introduced to these new tenders, namely: (i) both brownfield and greenfield were now awarded for a thirty year period; (ii) only electronic toll collection; (iii) the revenues collected through tolls are delivered to EP – Estradas de Portugal, S.A.; (iv) the Concessionaire revenues are a mix of service (based on traffic levels assessed) and availability revenues.

The substantial number of projects awarded allowed the State to transfer most of the national road network to private subconcessionaires responsible for thirty years for upgrades, maintenance and operation, including the DBFO for new national roads.

Shadow Tolls turn Real under the Subconcession Model


As a direct consequence of the financial crisis, the government decided to convert in 2010 and 2011 the 7 shadow-toll concessions into the real toll model, renegotiating all the existing Concession and Financial Contracts. One should mention that the operational model is real toll concessions but acting through the subconcession model, where the previous concessionaires (privates) have became subconcessionaires.


Regional Shadow Toll Concessions

In the Madeira and Açores archipelagos were launched shadow toll concessions. In Madeira the concession was awarded in the year 2000 to Vialitoral and in Açores the concession was awarded to Euroscut Açores in the year 2006.


Following the strategic plan presented by the Portuguese government, PPP road contracts will be renegotiated in order to obtain substantial fiscal gains, while ensuring reduction in government liabilities.


Click here to download the 2021 map of APCAP's motorway network - JPG format


Data as for 31/12/2022 (source: 2023 Statistical Bulletin)

Companies Km   Toll revenues (VAT & other taxes excluded)
21 3321,9   Euros (million) 1143,38
Traffic (Average daily)   Payment means
Light vehicles 15188   Toll stations 370
Heavy vehicles 1234   Toll lanes 1604
Total 16422   ETC lanes or mixed lanes 781
      ETC subscribers 3177049
Rest areas 58      
Services areas (with petrol stations) 151      
Restaurants 105      
Hotels 4      

Associação Portuguesa das Sociedades Concessionárias de Auto-Estradas ou Pontes com Portagens (APCAP)

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