In a radical reform of how light vehicles are to be charged for road use, the Brussels Government has announced that it is replacing high annual vehicle registration fees with a charge based on distance. If successful, it is possible this model will be replicated in other jurisdictions that charge ownership of a vehicle rather than usage, such as in the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and also Australian states and territories.
The policy is called "SmartMove" and has its own dedicated website in English, Flemish, French and German. It means that vehicles registered in Brussels (which is one of Belgium's three Federal "states") with gross mass of less than 3.5 tonnes will pay a per kilometre charge that will vary by time of day and engine size (the latter appears to be a legacy of the existing registration fee system).
It applies to all roads except the Brussels ring road and access roads to park and ride stations at the periphery of the Brussels-Capital region.
|Brussels SmartMove charged roads|
The scheme objectives are to:
- Improve fairness: Charging light vehicles by how much they use the road network, rather than simply ownership, will mean the costs of maintaining and developing the network are born the most by those who use it the most.
- Improve mobility: It is expected that the reform will reduce congestion, and through use of the app, enhance mobility by making it easier to make choices about alternative modes (and for those who drive, less congestion improves mobility and makes freight and bus traffic more efficiient).
- Improve quality of life: Reduced congestion and traffic levels will reduce emissions and improve air quality.
- Provide 24/7 assistance to road users, using technology.
|Brussels Capital Region - first registration tax|
|Brussels annual road tax (up to 5 litre)|
- Registered for the app with an account; or
- Bought a day pass (intended for visitors/occasional users).
- What happens if your phone is off when you drive? You have an account, but it isn't measuring distance travelled, do the ANPR cameras take enough records of number plates to match in the back office vehicles that don't have active smartphones reporting trip data? What happens if the phone is on and off while driving during the day? How is it enforced?
- Who is responsible if the battery on the phone expires whilst in use, or the phone reboots due to a manufacturer's setting?
- What happens if your phone is on and you don't drive? You could be in a friend's vehicle, or on a bus, will it measure distance and charge you accordingly? Or will ANPR be used to avoid this? How many ANPR cameras will there need to be around Brussels to enable this?
- What happens if you switch vehicles and don't update the app?