The Social Costs and Benefits of an 'accelerated Action Price' in the Netherlands.
O M Teule, AVV Transport Research Centre, NL
Besides better utilisation of existing roads and construction of new roads, road pricing is an important cornerstone in our Mobility Plan. The paper will focus on the social feasibility of several tolling or speeding-up projects in our country.
Roadpricing has a long history in the Netherlands. Despite several initiatives, however, it has never been implemented on a large scale. An important reason has been the lack of public support. In order to overcome this, in the beginning of 2005 an external platform was formed, composed by the main social and business society (e.g. the motorists association, environmental groups, representatives of employers and employees, regional governments, etc). This platform, called ?A Different Way of Paying for Mobility?, came to a consensus on how a road pricing scheme in the Netherlands should look like and presented their advice to the Minister of transport in May 2005. The advice comprised that in the long run the current (fixed) car taxes should be replaced by a price per kilometre, differentiated by time, place and environment. In order to solve pressing bottlenecks on the road network in the short run, the platform also recommended to implement a tolling system on specific locations. The income of these tolls should be used to invest in these specific bottlenecks. This tolling price is also known as the ?speeding up price?, because it entails projects for which resources are already allocated in the long-term infrastructure planning (MIT), but which can be carried out earlier against higher costs. The price will be based on the extra interest costs needed to speed up the construction. In addition to this, it was also adviced to build toll roads for which the financial resources are not reserved in the long term infrastructure planning. The Dutch Cabinet has followed the advice of the platform in the Mobility Policy Document. The revenues of the toll/speeding up price should amount to around 1 billion euro per year.
The SCBA study
The feasibility of possible tolling/speeding up price projects has been studied in the fall of 2006. In this study, also an indicative social cost benefit analysis has been carried out based on indicators. The central question of this research was to what extent the social benefits of (speeding up) construction of roads in combination with a (temporary) toll/speeding up price for a number of projects would balance against the social costs. The aim of this study was to get a first indication of the possible social effects of speeding up investments in road infrastructure. This study is however not as thorough as the CBA that is usually carried out in planning studies.
Projects under research
In total six projects have been looked at, varying from extension of the current infrastructure to the construction of new infrastructure. Some of these projects were accelerated projects, some were tolling projects and others were a combination of both:
1) Extension of highway A2 between Maasbracht and Geleen
2) Extension of highway A27 between Lunetten and Hooipolder
3) Construction of new road between highways A13 and A16
4) Extension of Highway A4 Delft-Schiedam
5)Extension of highway A15
6) A ?bundle? of projects on the south east side of The Hague
In the CBA the direct, indirect and external effects of a project are asessed. In this study, with respect to the direct effects, the investment costs and avoided investments have been looked at, as well as the operational and maintenance costs, the traveltime savings by new and generated traffic, the reliability and the traveldistance costs. With respect to the indirect costs the effects on the labourmarket and on the fuelmarket have been taken into account. With regard to the external effects, the effects on traffic safety, noise and air emmissions were quantified in the study.
Results of the SCBA
In the proposed paper we want to discuss the results of this SCBA per project. We will zoom in on some particular effects, such as the expected effects on traffic, which we have prognosed with our regional traffic forecast model (NRM). Further, we will draw some overall conclusions. We have seen that the question whether a project is socially feasible depends largely on the design of the variant. This also holds for the question whether the speeding up of a project is feasible. We will end the paper with lessons learned from our experiences.
Association for European Transport