The government’s plan to extend the pay-per-use system to all highways by 2024 has generated mixed reactions. While some defend it as something necessary, because that way “whoever uses it pays for it”, others differ and denounce that it will entail a series of damages for certain sectors and consumers.
Contributions, personal income tax, assets … the tax increases that the Government proposes to Brussels in the coming years
According to the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan sent to Brussels , the objective is to implement tolls on high-capacity roads “that allow to cover maintenance costs and integrate the negative externalities of road transport.”
The goal is set for 2024, although the Minister and Government spokesperson, María Jesús Montero, pointed out this Thursday that this date “may be indicative” and will be set based on the economic recovery after the pandemic crisis.
Ultimately, the measure proposes “creating a payment for the use of the road network”, which would be around one cent per kilometer, and which would be applied to individuals and freight loaders; thus exempting the transporters themselves from payment.
All this with two objectives: to promote sustainable mobility (promoting alternative routes, such as the railroad) and to get closer to the average of the European Union , where 23 of the 27 member countries have implemented this measure and 15 charge for the use of 100% of its network of highways.
To alleviate the costs of maintaining the highways
Another reason that has led to the application of this system is the growing deficit of 8,000 million that implies the maintenance of the roads.
The toll roads will accumulate a deficit of 286 million euros in 2021 pending the use toll set for 2024
Spain has the most extensive state network in Europe (it exceeds 26,466 kilometers, of which 12,000 are high-capacity roads), but it is at the bottom of the main countries in terms of investment in roads (22,489 euros per kilometer). For this reason, the Government indicates that “the costs of conservation are increasing and it is not possible that they are assumed directly by the budgetary resources”.
Thus, they assure that the rates will be “affordable, but that they guarantee financing” and clarify that it could be implemented in a “scalable and progressive” way, initially charging only on the highways and later extending the payment to other networks.
Although, according to Cadena Ser, a pricing of one cent per kilometer is proposed , the Association of Companies for the Conservation and Exploitation of Infrastructures (Acex) stressed that the charge of between 3 and 5 cents per kilometer would be enough to keep the roads in good condition. condition.
“It should be linked to automobile taxation”
“The infrastructure has to be paid for, so it seems logical that whoever uses it will pay for it,” Ramón Ledesma, PONS Road Safety advisor , declares 20 minutes later . “This is the case in the rest of the means of transport,” he adds, stating that “when we go on the AVE or by plane from Madrid to Malaga, we pay the infrastructure of the services through the corresponding fees.”
The consultant’s advisor asserts that, as in others, this matter can generate rejection, but it is something that must be done. “It is like speeding tickets, which we like more or less, but fines have to exist. And the payment for infrastructures has to exist, there is not much more alternative”, he says, highlighting that the “how” is done will be what important, because the highways “cost us between 1,500 and 2,000 million”.
“The subscription system can be multiple and does not have to be linked to a single model”
Regarding the price that should be established, from PONS Seguridad Vial they believe that “the payment for use should be linked to a certain reform of the periodic taxation of the car . ” In other words, the reform of the automobile circulation tax, which in turn has to do with the periodic use of the automobile itself.
“Let’s say that the tax management system, the payment system, can be multiple and does not have to be linked to a single model,” says Ledesmes. In this way, they consider that the two main objectives would be achieved: paying for the infrastructures and making it easier for the users themselves so that they do not stop using them.
A controversial proposal
The measure has caused rejection by various sectors, while the government and party companies try to defend the plan. The general director of Traffic, Pere Navarro, emphasizes that “you have to put the bell on the cat.” The head of the DGT has given the example of the train, where the passenger pays for the journey to reiterate his message: “whoever uses it, pays for it.”
The cost of the tolls that the Government is considering introducing into the highway network from 2024 could be around one cent per kilometer, as reported by Cadena Ser on Thursday. The controversial measure is included in the recovery plan sent by the Executive to Brussels, where it is contemplated “to create a payment for the use of the road network” and argues that it is necessary to “analyze” this possibility in order to achieve “more sustainable mobility”.
The Government studies charging one cent per kilometer on the highways since 2024
“It is a matter of the State and we would do well to agree,” he asserted, considering that “we cannot load it into the State budget and make the poor grandmother who receives a pension , who does not have a car, is paying the conservation and maintenance of roads “.
The consumer organization Facua has taken the opposite position , which in a statement considers that the Government should finance these expenses and not do so through a toll that “supposes an equal payment to all users, without taking into account criteria of income or economic capacity ” .
Will it be a detour to secondary roads?
Approach in line with that of the Royal Automobile Club of Spain ( RACE ), which has shown its opposition to the measure this Thursday, as they assure it will affect the pockets of drivers, who already “contribute 30,000 million euros to the state coffers ” .
According to a recent survey, three out of four drivers are opposed to paying under any circumstances and eight out of ten believe that the traffic will be diverted to secondary roads, some with deficits in maintenance and conservation.
It is one of the “main concerns” that the club has recognized regarding the plan sent to Brussels , as they point out that it is on these secondary roads where 78% of fatal accidents occur .
They do not think the same from PONS Seguridad Vial. As Ramón Ledesma explains at 20 minutes , everything will depend on the management model. “If in the end the user does not assume more than something that goes within the usual payments in a simple and simple way, it will not affect at all.”
On the contrary, there may be “some deviation” if the management is complicated with different payment systems, – different platforms and on top of it very expensive, etc.
“But the reality is that if it is done in an efficient, optimal and simple way, there will be no abandonment of roads. It is not true that someone who goes down from Barcelona to Seville now uses secondary roads because there will be an additional payment “, Ledesma assures.
Carriers believe it will have a negative effect on the economy
The Spanish Confederation of Goods Transport ( CETM ) also expressed “its rejection deep” a payment for road use, despite the agreement reached between the committee of the Confederation and the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda “which is pledged not to introduce tolls without reaching consensus with the road freight transport sector . ”
In addition, they assure that the proposal will have a negative effect on the economy , since they affirm that “it will mean an increase in the price of all products and will make exportation more difficult, weighing down production and consumption.” And they reiterate, “without transport there is no supply”, since 85% of the goods are moved by truck.