The British Department for Transport has announced plans for a national road pricing scheme to replace road and fuel taxes.
Under the proposals, every vehicle would be fitted with a GPS “black box” that would calculate charges based on the level of congestion and the type of road – from around €0.02 per kilometre for country roads during quiet periods to €1.23 per km for the busy motorways at rush hour.
Depending on public support for the moves, a pilot scheme could be set up “within five years”.
The announcement follows a feasibility study last year that said a national scheme had the potential to cut congestion by half and provide environmental benefits.
Environmental groups broadly welcomed the plans but the UK Environment Agency’s Nick Rijke warned that shifting money away from fuel duty would take away the incentive for people to use green vehicles.
• The northern English city of Durham could follow London by levying a city-wide fee on all motorists, under a plan to expand a tiny congestion charging scheme which presently only covers one street. According to newspaper reports, the city council is drawing up an application for government funds to introduce a fee on the main route through the city.
The trial congestion charge for Stockholm was given the green light in March, with a six-month trial set to begin in January. See April’s Bulletin.
A group of interested parties agreed last month on terms for the introduction of a kilometre charge in the Netherlands. The group, a so-called “polder group” in which stakeholders get together to work out a solution to a problem, recommended a distance-based charging system differentiated on the basis of congestion and environmental impacts, to replace existing vehicle taxes in two phases. T&E’s Dutch member SNM, a member of the group, is broadly happy with the proposals but objects that income from the charge will be “earmarked” for road building projects. The government will give its reaction to the proposals in a few weeks.
A user charge for goods vehicles and buses using Lithuania’s main highways came into force on 31 May. The charge, which is differentiated by weight of the vehicle (environmental criteria are not taken into account), is payable on a daily, monthly or annual basis.
The distance-charge for lorries, which launched in January, appears to have had a smooth start – especially compared with its troubled development phase.
Since the launch, 417 000 lorries have been fitted with the tracking system, and €909 million has been generated.
A spokesman for Toll Collect, the Berlin-based operating company, said Hungary, Poland, Russia, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Denmark and even China had sent representatives to look at the system – and the company is already bidding to provide a similar service in the Czech Republic.
This news story is taken from the June 2005 edition of T&E Bulletin.