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Pricing Goes Global David LeCoffre, Embassy of France, Washington, D.C. Marcel Rommerts, European Commission Gopinath Menon, MSI Global Pte. Ltd., Singapore Imad Nassereddine, 407 ETR Concession Company Ltd. VARIABLE ROAD PRICING IN FRANCE Clarity and simplicity: the user must easily under- stand the implemented system; and David LeCoffre Protection of the public interest: variable tolls may be used to enhance road safety. France has more than 50 years of toll road experience. Of the 5,000 miles of toll roads in operation, 4,500 Within the context of these principles, France is pur- miles are publicly owned and 500 miles are privatized. suing a pragmatic, step-by-step approach that is devel- Tolling has always been viewed as a means to pay for oping and will continue to develop on the basis of construction, maintenance, and operation. The French lessons learned from individual case studies. The experi- government is now starting to look at methods for con- ence of six such case studies, focusing on roads around verting traditional tolls into variable charges that could Paris as well as some alpine tunnels, have resulted in not only cover the cost of infrastructure but also aid in peak-to-nonpeak traffic shifts of as much as 12%. traffic management and cover the external costs (e.g., Lessons generated from these and other case studies will environmental impacts) imposed by road use. prove invaluable as France moves forward with its We define variable tolls as fees that are modified European partners in forging new public policy by according to any number of parameters, including vehicle redefining tolls and determining the extent to which type, time of day, itinerary, environmental conditions, variable tolls should be used. and the like. These parameters give rise to three special applications that may be useful under special circum- stances. They comprise (a) time-variable tolls, which are TESTING THE REAL-WORLD ACCEPTANCE AND based on the trip's time of day; (b) itinerary-variable tolls, EFFECTIVENESS OF URBAN PRICING which vary with the route traveled; and (c) environment- variable tolls, which are based on vehicle emissions levels. Marcel Rommerts The French government views variable tolls favor- ably. Several principles help guide the approach that the The European Commission is the administrative body government is considering: of the European Union. The European Union has 15 member states and will be enlarged with an additional Two users may pay two different toll rates if and 10 member states in May 2004. Among its activities are only if they are in a significantly different situation; setting common policy frameworks, harmonizing stan- No revenue increase: any toll rate increases during dards, and supporting information exchange and the a time of the day must be balanced by a comparable management of a multiannual research, technological decrease during another time of day; development, and demonstration activities program. 34