The platform has started looking for studies that can quantify the impact of the proposed measure. Below is a report from the Association of Spanish Roads. This document was drafted as early as 2011. At this time, Portugal introduced a payment system on its highways. The transport sector feared Spain would follow suit. According to the employers’ association in the car sector, the results of this study are still applicable today. This is because the Spanish road network has hardly changed since then.
30% decrease in road users in Portugal after toll
“In 2011, we already warned about the cost of the measure. Therefore, the report was prepared in case the government started copying Portugal. It was the first time we intervened in this debate,” explains the president of Automovilistas Europeos Asociados, Mario Arnaldo, told the newspaper Las Provincias. Arnaldo said the system resulted in a 30% drop in users in Portugal, leading the commercial sector to a 50% loss of visitors. And, moreover, an increase in traffic accidents as traffic increased on secondary roads without toll.
Bad for road safety
Arnaldo continues: “The economic situation is not ideal. We are talking about an increase for an average user of €2000 per year through this measure”. He also states that motorists already contribute €30,000 million per year. “In addition, it would negatively affect road safety because many would switch to the national road network. This is where 80% of fatal accidents are concentrated,” he says. However, Arnaldo warns that the system would “lack solidarity between areas”. Because the roads of sparsely populated Spain would contribute less to the Treasury. And thus deteriorate more due to a lower priority in maintenance work.
Bad for transport sector
The president of the Valencian Federation of Transport and Logistics Entrepreneurs (FVET), Carlos Prades, also rejects the measure, accusing the government of using “a play on words” by stating that it is not a toll, but a price fix. “We don’t know if the proposed system will be like the Portuguese one, but what we do know is that it will ultimately put more weight on an industry that has already been affected,” he says.
In a similar vein, the President of the Business Confederation of the Valencian Community (CEV), Salvador Navarro, spoke when he expressed his opposition. “Transport is the most deprived sector and until the Mediterranean Corridor is up and running [a rail link along the entire Mediterranean coast], goods will have to be transported by truck,” he said.
Proponents of the plan
Faced with the rejection of the carriers, drivers, and the Valencian employers’ association, the Valencian contractors support the imposition of a fee for driving on the highways, but as long as the aim is to improve road maintenance and therefore also road safety, according to the director of the Chamber of Contractors of the Valencian Community, Manuel Miñés. According to him, the deficit in the national road network is estimated at €7.8 billion.
‘Get rid of any infrastructure that users don’t pay for’
Likewise, he stressed that the road is “the only infrastructure that users do not pay to use. This is unlike rail, air or sea transport”. That is why the organization has been arguing for years for the introduction of a tax for road maintenance.
According to Miñés’ calculations, the proposal would cover about 1,050 kilometres in the region, with specific cases such as the A-3, the A-7 (the bypass), the A-31, or the AP-7 (which has been running since January 2020). saw the tolls disappear).
Ministry: ‘proposal not yet completed’
The Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management emphasised earlier this week that the proposal for a new toll on the highways has not yet been finalized. Minister Raquel Sánchez’s department insisted that an agreement be reached with all sectors concerned and reiterated the need to “align with European policies”.