Opinion Pieces: Going Dutch – listen to the future

Opinion Pieces: since 2007, Prof. David Hensher has written an opinion column in the Australasian Bus and Coach magazine, where he monthly discusses a lot of different transport-related hot topics. In this section we are revisiting these columns.
January 2010
There is a slow but growing realization that the future of public transport depends on the future of road pricing related to vehicle use, with a portion of revenue raised to be earmarked to public transport as a way of obtaining stakeholder buy in. The Dutch government is leading the way – it plans to scrap the road tax as well as the purchase tax on all new cars when the system is introduced in 2011. The Minister of Transport says this will provide a fairer system which taxes vehicle use, rather than ownership. Indeed, the minister says that more than half of Dutch road users will actually pay less under the road user charging scheme. According to calculations by motoring organizations, only motorists who drive more than 18,000kms a year are likely to be worse off under the new scheme. Currently in Sydney Private cars average 12,500km per annum, Household business cars average15,000kms per annum, and company cars average 22,000kms per annum.
A first implementation takes place in The Netherlands by 2011 for truck traffic and as of 2012 to 2016 for passenger cars. The motor vehicle tax (MRB) and the purchase tax (BPM) will be replaced by a system whereby the motorist pays depending on location, time and environmental aspects. The Automotive Telematics On-board unit Platform ATOP from NXP makes it possible to introduce pay-as-you-drive. It is safe, simple and very cost effective: it really is possible!
The Dutch government has determined that the costs of operating the national road user charge will not exceed five per cent of the proceeds. On November 16 last year the Dutch Cabinet agreed to the km charge for cars: 3 euro cents/km in 2012 increasing to 7 euro cents in 2017, equivalent of A$0.05/km in 2012 (or 50c/litre) or A$750 per annum (15,000km), compared to current registration fees (typically in Aust. around $300-$400). The 3 Euro Cents per km will increase to 6.75 Euro cents per km in 2018. The 3 euro cents is an average but varies by class of vehicle based on energy efficiency (A,B, C…). Hybrid vehicles will pay approximately 0.5-1 Euro cents per km. In 2012, however as part of a phase in program, the new charging regime will apply to only 20% of cars (selected via a lottery), with 100% covered by 2018. The charge will be a flat rate per km per class up to 2018; however from 2018 a peak rate will start, but only in Amsterdam, with a lower base (non-peak) rate when the peak rate is introduced. The entire scheme is designated as revenue neutral. It is claimed that 58% of people in entire country will be better off with significant reductions in congestion.
We look with great interest to the Netherlands. Will Australia like what it sees? It will certainly be much fairer than the very unfair (inequitable) system we have in place.
Food for thought
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