Today Irelands Council for Sustainable Development proposed the introduction of a “National Road Pricing Scheme” and I imagine most countries will discuss something similar in the near future. The Dutch plan to implement a similar scheme by 2016.
The principle is this, charge people for road use… directly. Motorists currently pay for roads by paying Vehicle Registration Tax/Import Tax (a tax on buying a car), road tax (a tax on owning a car), VAT and excise (taxes on fuelling a car). The main problems Ireland, and indeed most countries have, are emissions and congestion, so the fact that the taxes are directed at other areas seems silly. This scheme aims to tax these directly, removing some or all of the other taxes.
So firstly… two principles
- It is necessary to pay some form of motor tax to fund new roads, maintenance, policing etc. Those who feel they don’t get value for money… well fair enough… but that’s the principle.
- This scheme can be cost neutral. Some people will pay less, some more
So how does it work?
Each vehicle is fitted with a GPS. The motorist then pays for use of road by distance travelled, emissions from car, and location (congestion etc.). The idea is that this will reduce congestion by charging more for busy roads, busy times of day etc. It will also reduce emissions by being higher for larger emitters.
What are the perks/flaws?
Well besides those first two main points, other possibilities of the scheme are
Traffic management – If there is congestion in an area, the system, which notices an abnormally large number of cars in a small area, can encourage people to avoid the area by making alternative routes cheaper
Insurance linkage – if you drive less, your insurance could also be charges by the km/mile
Speeding linkage – is this a good thing? The great computer in the sky could pick up speeders
Security benefits – again… a good thing? The computer will know where the bad guys are. I suppose they can already monitor our mobile phones
Tech heavy – do you trust that computer? It would be a large complicated scheme. Ask the guys in Twitter for advice 🙂
Just as a point… the main alternative scheme proposed is to hike the price of fuel with more taxes…