Motorists against road tolls, employers in favour

Summary

Flanders’ mobility ministry is putting together a proposal on implementing a road toll system, which would see tax on vehicle ownership scrapped

Pay as you go

Only one in eight motorists in Flanders sees road tolls as a solution to traffic congestion, according to a survey carried out by pollster Ipsos for the motoring organisation VAB. However, the employers’ organisation VBO has come out in favour of the scheme as a valid replacement for vehicle taxes.

A road toll is already in place in Belgium for lorries so that foreign haulage companies pay for the use of the roads. The proposed tolls would be for private vehicles. The plan would see a switch from the current system, where every car owner pays tax, and replace it with toll stations that would be placed here and there on motorways.

Supporters argue that the system would be more fair as drivers who cover more kilometres would pay proportionally more. Tolls would also be higher during peak commuting hours, which traffic experts have said would encourage drivers to seek alternatives. This would help reduce congestion and pollution, especially at hot-spots like the Brussels and Antwerp ring roads.

The poll, however, shows that 38% of drivers would not adapt their habits as a result of the tolls. And among those who would change their behaviour, 40% would change the hours they commute rather than seek alternatives to the car.

Not in my back yard

For those in favour of tolls, a majority were in favour of times and places where they themselves were not affected. More than one in three thought roads around Brussels, Antwerp and Ghent were well-suited to the system, but were not in favour of a region-wide application.

Flemish mobility minister Ben Weyts is preparing a proposal for road tolls for private vehicles to be presented next year. Any new system is expected to be the decision of the next Flemish government, after the elections in 2019.

Meanwhile, polling organisation iVOX also carried out a survey at the request of employers’ federation VBO. Focused on public transport, it found that 60% of employees thought it was up to employers to organise more sustainable home-to-work transport.

VBO came out in favour of road tolls, on the condition they were set according to place, time and the pollution caused by the vehicle.
Photo courtesy Resoc

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Traffic in Flanders

Thousands of commuters and foreigners pass through Brussels and Flanders each day, and the two regions have suffered from heavily congested traffic and long and frequent traffic jams for years – with no end seemingly in sight.
Record - According to the 2013 report from traffic information platform Inrix, Brussels and Antwerp have the most traffic congestion of any city in Europe and North America.
Calendar - October is the worst month of the year for traffic jams.
Causes - Year after year, heavy snowfall and railway strikes lead to monster traffic jams. Heavy congestion, infrastructure works and multi-lane accidents cause the more ordinary daily tailbacks.
1 285

largest area covered in traffic ever recorded in Belgium in kilometres

70

time Antwerp drivers spend in gridlock per year in hours

10 000

traffic diversions in Flanders per year