Dutch pursue idea of cross-country road pricing

Scrap all road taxes. Scrap all vehicle taxes. Instead, charge people for every kilometre they drive, when the drive, and where they drive. That’s what the Dutch are promising to have in place by 2012. Of course, the idea of road tolling and congestion charging isn’t entirely new. We’ve seen it on a smaller scale in cities such as London and Stockholm, and in smaller countries such as Singapore. But the Netherlands, if it follows through, would be the first nation to develop a system that spread across the entire country.

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that I’m a big fan of congestion charging and distance-based transport charging scheme. It’s the best way to manage the growing problem of congestion in large cities and to get more people taking public transit (not to mention the best way to raise funds for public transit expansion projects). It’s just silly that in Canada our property taxes go toward road infrastructure, even if you’re a household that doesn’t drive much and uses mostly public transit. Makes sense that the more road you use the more you pay to maintain that road. At the same time, there’s no way Canada could embrace a cross-country charging scheme, given our immense size, but certainly large cities such as Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver should be seriously looking at this option.

NOTE: Here’s a recent article in the Globe and Mail about pay-as-you-drive road charging schemes, in this case discussing a pilot test of technology developed by Toronto-based Skymeter Corp.

5 thoughts on “Dutch pursue idea of cross-country road pricing”

  1. Welcome back from New Mexico, Tyler;-) Not sure I agree with this one, of charging by the mile- it seems to me an unnecessarily complicated way to collect taxes. And I’ m not sure it makes sense even to charge more of those who drive more. Everyone benefits from having a road system, and one that is kept in good repair- it is not just driving from point A to point B, but having roads for police and fire when you need it, for delivering the goods you want and need to stores. And sometimes those who drive more on the roads are not necessarily the ones who can afford it more- at least here, housing is less expensive the further out you live- but the tradeoff is a longer commute. But most of these same people would not be able to afford a place in town, or even desire one if they have a family.

    I’m not saying that those with vehicles should not pay at least some more- perhaps by upping the charges for the yearly registration, for the yearly inspections- even a tax on tires could be doable- but mostly, good roads are a benefit to everyone, and it seems like it would cost less if a simpler way to collect taxes for our roads was implemented- even if it meant a higher sales tax- at least this taxes those more who can afford to spend more.

  2. We can’t rely on the gas tax because of increased vehicle efficiency and the move to alternative fuels and electricity. Reduced gas consumption means we would have to dramatically raise the cost of the gas tax, and there would be no way of collective from electric-car drivers and biofuel-based vehicles that use the same roads and infrastructure.

  3. Why couldn’t Canada “embrace a cross-country charging scheme, given our immense size”? If the info is satellite based, I don’t see why it would not work… although you would probably have to charge less per mile in rural areas.

  4. I suspect that a congestion tax in a city like Toronto would backfire, at least in the long run. It would only encourage large businesses to re-locate to the outer suburbs where there is no viable public transit and everyone has to drive to work, to shop, to the park etc. How would this be helpful? The goal is to get people out of their cars, not out of the city.

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