Situation truck toll
Too much of the money that the government raises from road transport is spent on non-road activities. As a result, insufficient funds are left over to meet the needs of infrastructure finance. A recalculation of the road costs of trucks in 2014 revealed that the previous truck toll rates had been set too high. According to EU law, this means the government is obliged to reduce toll rates to this new, lower road cost level. The government is now attempting to compensate for the reduction in income. Firstly, it is imposing an air pollution surcharge on the straightforward road costs. Up to this point, air pollution emissions were taken into account by charging only for the actual road costs although at a differentiated rate according to the particular emissions category. Now, however, surcharges will be applied to the road costs depending on the emissions category. The question arises as to why “the road” should be the only means of transport in the goods sector that is additionally burdened by these so-called external costs. Railways and internal waterways do not need to carry their external costs.
It is ecologically dubious that the new methodology will reduce the toll rate differential between the cleanest and the most polluting vehicles from a former 13 cent/vehicle kilometer to the current rate of 8 cent/vehicle kilometer. Consequently, there is less incentive to use the cleanest-possible vehicles. The conclusion is thus inescapable that the change of system has less to do with ecological concerns than with the intention to achieve short-term tax revenues.
The new truck toll has been in force since January 1, 2015. From July 2015 onwards, a further 1,100 kilometers of dual-carriageway federal highways are to be included in the toll as well as, from October 1, 2015, all vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 7.5 tonnes or more.