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O N E S T E P F O RWA R D , T W O S T E P S B A C K ? 77 The Netherlands a proposal for legislation on the kilometer charge by the end of 2003 and stated its intention to start implement- During the late 1980s, the Dutch government proposed ing the system in 2004 (the system is expected to be fully the introduction of a large multiple cordon-based road operational by 2006). The system will be a nondifferen- pricing system called rekening rijden ("road pricing") tiating kilometer charge first, but the possibilities of dif- for the Randstad region (including Amsterdam, Rotter- ferentiating the charge in relation to congestion will be dam, The Hague, and Utrecht, plus part of the province discussed further. of Noord-Brabant). The main objective of this proposed The barriers to the success of the implementation of scheme was to manage travel demand and hence to congestion charging in the Netherlands have been poli- reduce congestion. Other objectives were to decrease tics and technology. The success of the recent proposal environmental pollution and generate funds to finance for a kilometer charge will rely heavily on the reliability new infrastructure. Because of public opposition the and capability of charging technology. However, the proposal was not pursued. In 1991 a more conventional greatest barrier to further progress still appears to be form of road toll using toll plazas (tollpleinen) was pro- political and closely linked to public acceptability. posed. The objective of the scheme was redefined to raise money for road infrastructure. However, the potential disruption of the traffic attributable to the Germany stop-and-go operation of the toll plazas and the amount of land required for implementation caused the proposal The key development of road user charging in Germany to be rejected. is the implementation of interurban freight charging. In 1992 a proposal of reduced scope, which involved Since April 2001 there has been a standard emission- a system of supplementary licensing for motorists using related tariff for motorway tolls applicable to heavy the main road network during peak periods (spitsvi- goods vehicles (HGVs), jointly implemented by Bel- gnet), was discussed. The peak-hour motorists would gium, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, the Nether- have been charged a fixed toll to travel during peak lands, and Sweden (Eurovignette). The current system hours regardless of the area. The charge would be about of Eurovignette imposes a license charge on all HGVs $2.85 per day (1992 prices) applied during the morning weighing more than 12 tonnes (except buses, coaches, peak period, 6 to 10 a.m. However, the proposal was and specialist vehicles) for using the road network in not approved after a new government was elected in any of these countries. The charges are varied according 1994. Boot et al. (1999) suggested that the most impor- to the number of axles and engine emission standards. tant reason for the failure of these earlier proposals was Germany is facing the problem of continuing freight political acceptability. traffic growth as the consequence of the Single European Subsequently, in October 1994 the Dutch parliament Market and the enlargement of the European Union (EU) agreed in principle and strongly proposed the implemen- to the east and globalization. Freight traffic is forecast to tation of a revised form of rekening rijden (referred to as grow by 64% before 2015. The German government "congestion charging"), which would be a system of aims to tackle the problem by creating an efficient trans- electronic toll cordons around the four main cities in the port infrastructure to accommodate the growth in traffic Randstad area starting in 2001 (Dutch Ministry of demand, improve the rail freight network, and create Transport 1995). The charge would be in operation dur- fair competition between modes. One key strategy is to ing the morning peak hour (7 to 9 a.m.) on weekdays. rectify the price ratio between the rail and the road sec- The objective of this late proposal was to improve acces- tors. Thus, after a long discussion, the introduction of sibility of the economic centers. In 2001 congestion distance-related charges for the use of motorway system charging became a major political issue in the Nether- by HGVs was approved by the government in April lands. The proposal of rekening rijden was opposed by 2002. The act allows the introduction of distance-based several interest groups. The main objection was that the charging on the motorway network and some part of the authorities failed to provide an alternative for those who federal highways (mainly for safety reasons), and the toll were obliged to travel by car during the proposed charg- revenues can be used for infrastructure projects. ing period. The government is now considering an alter- The toll system will be changed in autumn 2003 from native proposal for a Mobimeter ("kilometer charging") the old Eurovignette system to the kilometer charge sys- system. The idea was supported by the successful devel- tem. The charge will still be differentiated according to opment of the technology for the kilometer charging sys- engine emission standard and number of axles. It will tem. In addition, the policy could well fit in with the replace the Eurovignette and some part of the fuel duty. European Commission white paper that proposed a kilo- The charge is expected to vary between 0.10 and 0.17 meter charging system as a good instrument for trans- per kilometer and is in line with EU Directive 1999/62/EC port pricing in Europe. The cabinet has now announced (Commission of the European Community 1999). Driv-