Around a year ago I reported that the Brussels Capital-Region Government (which is one of the federal regions of the Kingdom of Belgium) was planning to introduce road user charging (RUC), specifically a distance, time and location based RUC for all light vehicles registered in and driving in the Brussels Capital-Region. Prices would vary by engine size (and it wouldn't apply to heavy vehicles because Belgium already has a national heavy vehicle RUC system). That was to start with a pilot called Smartmove, but ultimately lead to replacement of the very high annual vehicle registration fees in Brussels, with RUC. Charges would be applied to all public roads except the ring motorway and some park and ride access roads at the periphery.
|Brussels City-Region zone for RUC|
It is interesting for three reasons:
- It is the latest attempt to introduce distance-based RUC for light-vehicles in Europe, replacing an existing tax (there have arguably been several attempts, notably in the Netherlands, Finland and the UK). So far no European jurisdiction has introduced distance-based RUC for light vehicles (but it does exist in two US states, one Australian state and New Zealand, in all cases for only a subset of the light vehicle fleet).
- It seeks to combine RUC with a form of congestion charging, by varying distance by time of day and location. The time of day factor is intended to charge higher rates for peak time travel, and the location factor being that only distance travelled within the Brussels Capital-Region would be subject to a fee.
- Smartmove intends to pioneer using smartphones as a means of identifying and measuring vehicle trips. This has not been successful elsewhere to date, primarily because of the difficulties in ensuring that the phone is always linked to the vehicle, and the vehicle always has a smartphone operating to measure and report trip data.