Guruló Hordó

Electronic road tolls for Hungary: A constructive idea

2013.02.06. 12:08 varghaps (Vargha Péter Simon)

If Hungary joins forces with Slovakia, it may be able to introduce a new electronic road toll system in time, since such a system is already in place in Slovakia. We fully support this great idea put forward by the Clean Air Action Group, a Hungarian environmental NGO. We would also add that the planned fees would have to be lowered to more realistic levels in order to realize this plan.

Hungary plans to introduce a new electronic road toll (ERT) system for heavy vehicles this year (charged on the basis of the distance travelled). Even before the recent failure of the tendering process, the deadlines seemed very challenging, to put it mildly. Now the Clean Air Action Group addressed an open letter to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, in which they called for Hungarian cooperation with Slovakia to introduce a successful ERT system already in place there. Why hasn’t anyone else thought of this?! Since the fixed costs of building this type of electronic system are very high, it is probably much cheaper to join an existing one, and would also be faster than starting over from scratch.

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Another bridge to Slovakia? Source: pluska.sk

We hope there are no technical (or possibly political) barriers to realizing this idea, and that in this way the payments of ERTs would be made possible on time. (Just in time to avoid the ERT saga from becoming a long soap opera, of the less successful type…)

We have a further constructive suggestion to add to this idea. As we have previously written, in order for the system to fulfill its role, the road toll fees must be reduced to a more realistic level. First off, it is the fee for the largest trucks that seems too high: in Slovakia, a truck pays €0.2/km on motorways, whereas according to the Hungarian regulation, this would be €0.29/km here (85 Ft/km!), equivalent to 40% higher.

A lot of drivers would not pay such high fees:, if possible, they would avoid the country altogether. Many freight companies would surely lobby for subsidies or some form of compensation to make up for their losses. This would endanger the purpose of the entire system, while the budget revenues would be lower than planned.

It would be better to start off with plans for lower road tolls and revenues: the Slovak system could also serve as an example for this. And this could mean that the new electronic road-toll system could be implemented already in 2013, an important step on the road to fairer and greener burden-sharing.

english budget pollution Hungary

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