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International Experts Assess Future Road Tolls for Europe

Road user charging (RUC) experts from across Europe gathered at a seminar in Malmö to discuss the introduction of a distance based charging system for heavy goods vehicles – the first of its kind proposed for the Continent.

A knowledge building process is ongoing in Sweden ahead of the decision on whether to become the first European state to enforce the new policy. This process is being driven by the ARENA project, a joint venture of the Swedish Road Administration and the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems which is led by BMT Transport Solutions GmbH, a subsidiary of BMT Ltd.

The results of the sessions have now gone live on the internet to provide thought leadership on what could be a highly pertinent and controversial issue for European logistics organisations.

Experts, including industry consultants and civil servants from governmental transport departments across Europe, gathered at the seminar in February to discuss the concept of a per kilometre tax for heavy goods vehicles that has been developed for Sweden.

During the morning session, six experts gave their comments on the concept of the road toll system under the moderation of Prof. Phil Blythe from the University of Newcastle. A panel discussion and a number of crucial actions required for the progression of the policy were addressed:

• Ensuring interaction between government policy and system development

• Consulting the market to ensure innovative system solutions are in place to improve functionality

• Addressing user privacy and other issues that could affect drivers

• Producing a robust business case for the benefit of users and governmental objectives

• Trying to make the procurement of relevant services for the project easy and transparent

• Providing consultation and ensuring public and political support from the start

• Determining whether mandating equipment in the lorries would be possible and what effects non-equipped users would have

The seminar was held to develop coordination between authorities, operators, users and suppliers; allowing them to work together to build knowledge and share experience on the design and delivery of robust and acceptable solutions for future road user charging systems. The Malmö seminar is one of the enabling activities of the scheme, and it is hoped that its findings may provoke pan-European debate on the subject.

Inger Gustafsson, a consultant with BMT Transport Solutions and manager of the Arena project said: “The seminar was an emphatic success with 80 experts providing significant knowledge and experience from a range of European RUC initiatives. The meeting also accelerated the ongoing establishment of a high level European network of road charging experts which will prove invaluable to future discussion and policies.”

Christer Rydmell who is responsible for the national road user charging activities, and Lars Örnfelt, the project steering committee chair, are both from the Swedish Road Administration. They commented: “Our seminar invitation generated an extremely positive response and we are confident that the concept we have developed for heavy goods vehicle road user charging is a robust one. The seminar supported our aim of building up a high level European network of road charging experts and the debate has only strengthened our concept further.”

Although the seminar was by invitation only, the results are now published on www.arena-ruc.se.

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