Curbing Operational Costs of Road User Charging Schemes: Experiences of Norway
E Amdal, M Welde, J Odeck, R Fjelltun Be, Public Roads Administration, NO
Implementation of road user charges either as a traffic restraint measure or for financing road infrastructure is crucial issues and often heavily debated. One argument against such measures is that the operational costs of running the systems are high and may exceed benefits.
In the recent years Europe has seen a tendency of acceptance of user charges meaning that such measures can be acceptable and can be initiated. The issue hotly debated now is the operational costs associated with such systems. Past experiences show that these costs tend to be around 20% meaning that they are rather costly. The London congestion pricing scheme is a case in mind where the operational cost are well above 30%. That operational cost is a critical issue was witnessed at the AET conference in 2003 where the London scheme was highly celebrated, although less focus was on the high costs of running the scheme and more on its success in the political implementation. Thus far, major concern for planners is to find ways of keeping the operational costs of schemes involving road user charges at a minimum level.
This is the subject of this paper. Using Norwegian experiences with road user charges, we elucidate how operational cost can be reduced to a minimum level. Those countries wishing to implement pricing schemes should appreciate these past experiences from Norway. Specifically we address how operational costs can be reduced with respect to (1) technologies employed, (2) organisational framework, (3) the structure of financing, and (4) the role of legislature.
Our tentative conclusions are that Norway offers a lot to be learnt with respect to ways of keeping operational costs at a minimum level. This is essential for legitimating toll projects as an alternative way of financing infrastructure. Secondly it will contribute towards the acceptance of toll schemes by the general public. Furthermore, we find that holding operational cost at 6% of total toll income is feasible in most toll projects.
We recommend different ways on how this can be done.
Association for European Transport