The Spanish government has this week confirmed its plans to start charging for the use of the highways. A system that is due to come into force in 2024.
The move to charge for using the highways seems to be guaranteed as it is part of an agreement between Spain and the EU, to receive ‘recovery funds’.
The new ‘soft toll’, or “tarificacion” (“charging for use”) as Sergio Vazguez, the Secretary General of Infrastructure insists on calling it, will see a tariff being used for each kilometre driven rather than fixed toll booths and rates.
The finer details on the charges are still yet to be confirmed and it is barely mentioned in the General Budgets for next year, 2022. It is however most plausible that the income will be a system that is similar to the one used in Portugal, where control cameras log car licence plate numbers and drivers pay about one cent per kilometre.
If this is the system that Spain adopts, a trip from Valencia to Madrid would cost roughly 3.60 euros and a trip from Madrid to Barcelona, roughly 625km, would cost 6.25 euros.
Currently, 23 out of 27 of the EU member states already have some sort of pay-as-you-go system in place, so this is quite common practice in other countries.
However, given the different complications that this measure generates, the Government is considering first using the ‘vignette’, which is common in the rest of Europe and consists of paying a flat monthly or annual fee.
This particular method requires that each driver would need to purchase a vignette sticker, much like an ITV sticker. The sticker would authorise any vehicle under 3,500 kilos to drive on high-capacity roads.
As an example, in Austria cars and similar vehicles pay a fee of 9.50 euros for ten days of unlimited motorway usage. They can also pay 27.80 euros for two months or one year at 92.50 euros with the price paid by motorcycles considerably less.
Another positive advantage of the vignette system is that toll booths or barriers are not required which can often be the cause of traffic jams. Just placing the vignette sticker is all that is required, however, those found not to be using the corresponding sticker for the road would be hit with a large fine.
Many government officials have already backed the move but have insisted that the money set aside in the 2022 budget is simply not enough. The political party Podemos has however argued that there should be certain exceptions put in place, for example for those who use the roads for work and those who are on a low to medium income.
Supporters of the proposed plan have also indicated that more people would be encouraged to use public transport, something that has dwindled during the Covid pandemic. Figures show that there has been a 40 per cent reduction in train travel across the country, but an increase that exceeds pre-pandemic travel via the AP-9 highway.
They also believe it would benefit Spain's commitment to ‘sustainable travel’ in its fight against climate control.
Whatever the resolution, the Minister of Transport Raquel Sánchez announced yesterday “that the complete plan will be presented in a few months and that it is intended to be fair and rigorous.”
November 24, 2021
November 24, 2021
November 23, 2021