The Spanish government is set to present its proposal to bring back motorway tolls in 2024 – however, the payments will not be called tolls and instead will be referred to as ‘usage charges’ (tarificación por uso).
The charge system will be implemented no later than 2024 as was confirmed this week by Minister of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Raquel Sánchez who remarked in a press conference that the Council of Ministers is working to have its final proposal ready in “a few months” to have a “charging system ready for use” with a “maximum start date of 2024.”
Sánchez said that this is part of the commitment signed by the government with Brussels within the Recover Plan framework in which it promised to have a new toll system ready on all the country’s motorways before June 30, 2022 in order to begin applying it in fiscal year 2024.
Just hours before Sánchez addressed the press, the Secretary General and Infrastructure of the Ministry of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, Sergio Vázquez, asked not to use the term “toll” but rather “charging for use”, and defended the implementation of a system that pays for the maintenance and conservation of road infrastructure, instead of using “the taxes of all Spaniards.”
The Government argues that there is a need to charge for motorway use given the existence of a state network that exceeds 26,466 kilometres in length, of which about 12,000 are high-capacity highways – the longest in Europe, with increasing maintenance costs which are becoming increasingly difficult to meet by budgetary resources alone.
The Ministry of Transport is currently carrying out studies in order to have a final proposal for the intended ‘charging system’ which was first revealed when it announced that it would not be extending the concessions for toll roads any longer.
Sánchez explained that a deep “analysis” and “reflection” is being undertaken with the economic and social agencies, mainly in the transport sector due to their involvement and “concerns” and that a “political consensus” will be sought to determine the “best option.”
The new system, she assured, will not generate “territorial grievances” but instead will be “fair and subject to consensus with the social, economic, territorial agents and with the autonomous communities.”
Among the options that the Government is considering is a fixed rate for a specific period of time through a toll based on a vignette, a sticker similar to that of the ITV or the environmental badge that would be placed on the car window to show paid use for a certain road or set of roads.
This system is already used in countries such as Austria, Switzerland or the Czech Republic, although the Portuguese model of payment for mileage is also being studied. Whatever system is finally chosen, the head of transport has defended the need for a system in the first place, recalling that of the 27 member states that currently make up the European Union, 24 of them already have a pricing system.