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OCR for page 58
46 I N T E R N AT I O N A L P E R S P E C T I V E S O N R O A D P R I C I N G road pricing center on a key distinction: mandatory ver- cost $200 million per year to place onboard units into sus voluntary systems. It supports the concept of volun- new vehicles and $1.5 billion to convert existing vehi- tary tolls but is leery of the slippery slope whereby cles. The fuel tax, in contrast, imposes much lower voluntary systems gradually morph into mandatory sys- ancillary costs. tems. Without adequate assurance that voluntary really While the American Trucking Associations is open to does mean voluntary, the industry would look at most proposals such as the truck tollways currently proposed pricing proposals with a good degree of skepticism. by the Reason Foundation and the conversion of high- Incentives that permit the industry to improve its occupancy vehicle lanes to high-occupancy toll lanes, productivity--for example, through adjustments to size our support is wholly dependent on assurances that the and weight limits--can help mitigate industry doubts proposed pricing will be voluntary rather than manda- about the extent to which pricing will benefit truckers tory and make provision for alternate routes for truckers rather than simply raise revenues. Indeed, recent history who are unable to pay any newly imposed fee. has witnessed a large number of unacceptable policy decisions, including an 82% rate increase on the Ohio Turnpike and a 300% increase on seven toll bridges TOLLING HEAVY GOODS VEHICLES ON crossing the Delaware River. We have ample evidence GERMANY'S AUTOBAHNEN that revenue generation, rather than productivity improvements and other benefits to road users, underlie Andreas Kossak many pricing ventures. Another of the industry's concerns is double taxation. In 1999 the German government decided to introduce Without a doubt, truckers already bear a sizable tax bur- distance-related charges for heavy goods vehicles den. A true user fee should be based on the true cost of (HGVs) starting in 2003. This decision stemmed from the vehicle's use of the facility, with revenue funneling at least three goals: to raise additional money for financ- straight back into the facility. This principle is utterly ing the federal transportation infrastructure, to shift overturned when a user fee is imposed over and above an freight transportation from road to rail and inland existing tax system. Similarly, the industry's support for waterways, and to improve the competitiveness of the any pricing project is also predicated on the appropriate German logistics industry. use of revenues generated by the project. In our view, A High Commission on Financing the Federal Trans- revenues are legitimately directed to the service of debt portation Infrastructure was appointed and given full and the expense of operating the facility; tolls should be discretion to develop recommendations on financing removed once bonds are paid off. Certainly, revenues strategies. The commission's central recommendation generated by a given facility's users should not be was to convert "the financing of the Federal Transporta- directed to any unrelated facility or purpose. tion Infrastructure . . . step by step from financing on the And what is pricing's true effectiveness in modifying basis of the Federal Budget and federal taxes respectively behavior and managing demand for a limited resource? to financing by the user--as far as possible under the dif- Given shippers' expectations for pickup and delivery ferent boundary conditions." With regard to the techni- times, truckers have little control over their travel times; cal system for charging the toll and the amount of toll, as it stands, truckers seek to avoid peak times anyway, respectively, the commission recommended that "the sys- even without price signals to force the issue. Also, traffic tem should ensure upward-compatibility and interoper- diversion can quickly undermine the true goals of any ability" and that "HGVs should be charged an average pricing project. One recent study predicts that with a toll toll of 25 Pfg. per vehicle kilometer on Autobahnen." increase of $0.20 per mile, up to 50% of truck traffic can By the end of September 2002, the national govern- be expected to divert to alternate routes. Another study, ment had made a final decision for the operator of the performed by Fluor-Daniel, demonstrated that under a tolling system and had decided to allocate 50% of the new pricing project under which trucks and cars would net toll revenue to the railways and the inland water- face tolls of $0.17 and $0.05 per mile, respectively, 35% ways. At present, we expect the tolling system to take to 85% of vehicles would divert. And that 82% toll effect in spring or summer 2004. increase on the Ohio Turnpike underscores the diversion Throughout this process, the logistics industry has concern as well; following the increase, local roads sud- not registered significant opposition to tolling HGVs denly experienced a 30% to 50% increase in truck traf- using Autobahnen on the basis of internal costs. In fact, fic. Such diversion can obviously impose significant many in the industry hold that the introduction of the safety, environmental, and infrastructure costs. tolling system will be beneficial, since it will improve the Finally, electronic tolling imposes significant costs on competitiveness of the German logistics industry com- truckers; if the German road pricing proposal were pared with that of the foreign truckers using Germany's applied to the United States, we estimate that it would Autobahnen, which are exempt from the relatively high

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I M PA C T S O F P R I C I N G O N I N T E R U R B A N F R E I G H T T R A N S P O RTAT I O N 47 German traffic-related taxes. The industry, however, has truckers may suffer some setbacks. We also expect that called for the exclusive dedication of the total net rev- an increase in transportation fees will raise consumer enues for improvements to the federal roads system. In prices. And finally, we expect almost no shift of freight addition, it emphasizes that any additional financial from road to rail, though a substantial shift from Auto- burden must be passed on to the clients. bahnen to toll-free "Bundesstraen" is possible. This We expect that qualified logistics enterprises will phenomenon could lead to pressure to expand the increase their productivity, though simple freelance tolling to other types of roads.