On 4 November, the European Parliament’s Transport Committee held an open hearing with various stakeholders on road charging with a view as to how this issue can be tackled on an EU-wide basis. FIA Region I, defending motorists, took part in the hearing to highlight the amount that drivers and motorcyclists already pay in taxes and to offer viable alternative solutions to road pricing.

“Motorists already pay high taxes when it comes to fuel and vehicle ownership and, often, less than half of the revenue generated from those taxes is reinvested to the benefit of road users,” said FIA Region I Director General, Jacob Bangsgaard. He continued, “Road pricing and the further taxation of motorists is an inefficient and unproductive solution as it will not reduce pollution or lower congestion. It will just further punish those that are already paying with their time and fuel in traffic jams. Policymakers would do better to place ambitious targets to lower vehicle emissions and offer alternative methods to enter city centres before considering an additional financial burden on motorists.”

Before placing further charges and scapegoating motorists, FIA Region I demands that policymakers consider:

  • Strict and ambitious targets for vehicle emissions thresholds
  • A more realistic test cycle to truly evaluate the level of emissions a car is producing
  • Offering alternative methods, such as park and ride stations, to flexibly enter city centres
  • The inclusion of emissions and noise externalities of other forms of transportation, including airplanes, city buses, trams, etc. in addition to those of motorcycles and cars
  • Making alternative fuelled vehicles truly viable options for consumers
  • How flexible working could ease the traffic burden at peak times

It is unlikely that road charging alone could radically modify driver behaviour, since they are usually not in control of the hours that they start and finish work. Nor do they have realistic options for cars that emit fewer pollutants, when the test cycle of these emissions is misleading and alternative fuelled vehicles are not yet viable. Park and ride stations are not yet sufficiently widespread to reliably replace the use of vehicles.

For these reasons, policymakers must not limit their discussions to only road charging. They must also consider the wider societal implications that are causing users to overwhelmingly choose motor vehicles in certain situations. It is only by providing a realistic variety of options that mobility can improve for all users.