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Spain considers urban tolls

By March 18, 2024March 27th, 2024No Comments

Is charging drivers to enter city centres the best way to alleviate traffic and pollution worries?

On Monday, March 18, the Foundation for Applied Economic Studies (Fedea) proposed to the Ministry of Transport a plan to introduce congestion and pollution charges in major urban areas, similar to those in London, Milan, Stockholm, and Copenhagen.

Implementing urban tolls

Fedea, linked with the Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE), expressed disappointment that the current Sustainable Mobility Bill, re-submitted to the Cortes following the dissolution of parliament in July 2023, overlooks the potential of urban tolls.

The think tank advocates for a ‘pay-per-use and the polluter pays’ principle, aiming to bridge the gap between private and societal costs.

‘In these cases, the revenue is enormous, but you are financing yourself by correcting the problem of sustaining so much traffic when there is no capacity for it,’ explained Gines de Rus, one of the report’s authors.

Road maintenance financing

Moreover, Fedea criticises the government’s decision to omit road use charges from the Sustainable Mobility Law.

Previously, a draft law had suggested reviewing transport infrastructure financing to internalise external transport costs. ‘The most reasonable way to finance road maintenance is with a small toll that reflects the weight of the vehicle,’ said Angel de la Fuente, director of Fedea.

Concerns over mobility law

The think tank also points out the law’s excessive formal obligations and its broad but impractical approach. Economists argue for fewer aspirations and more actionable measures.

On public transport infrastructure, De Rus promotes maximum freedom for bus companies, while De la Fuente emphasises the importance of subsidies over cross-subsidisation to ensure connectivity and prevent rural depopulation.

Implementing tolls in large cities, as Fedea suggests, might significantly reduce congestion and pollution.

However, this proposal faces the challenge of being incorporated into the Sustainable Mobility Law, which currently does not include such measures.