Tuesday 8 March 2022

Will Denmark be the next European country to develop light-vehicle RUC?

According to the Ministry of Transport website of Denmark (in Danish), the Danish Government has agreed to a pilot of road user charging (RUC).  The Technical University of Denmark with state-owned infrastructure company Sund & Baelt  is to undertake a study as follows:

DTU's development experiments with road pricing are carried out with a randomly selected representative group of citizens. DTU's primary focus is to investigate the effects of introducing tolls on the roads that are challenged by congestion and thereby collect experiences of behavioral changes among motorists. The experiences from the experiment can form the basis for a possible further work with tolls for passenger cars.

So the idea appears to be to test RUC on congested roads, with a subset of users, to understand behaviour change to inform further work on road pricing. Sund & Baelt already operates the tolling systems on Denmark's tolled crossings - the Great Belt Fixed Link between the islands of Funen and Zealand, connecting the main islands of Denmark with the European continent, and the Øresund Bridge between Denmark and Sweden. 

2,000 citizens will be subject to the pilot which will take a total of three years, with tariffs that will vary by location based on congestion. It is clear it will only be for light vehicles (those under 3.5 metric tons Gross Vehicle Weight). The pilot budget is DKK20 million (~US$2.9m).

Meanwhile, a petition signed by 50,000 citizens is requesting that the Great Belt Fixed Link toll be removed. The toll is DKK250 (US$37) per car, which is high, but the cost of the bridge and tunnel link was DKK21.4b in 1988 (US$3.1b), so it is reasonable to recover those capital costs from the users (particularly for a Government committed to encouraging greater use of public transport).  The Local reports that the debt for the bridge won't be fully repaid under 2032. 


It's clear that revenue from fuel tax is putting pressure on lots of jurisdictions, but it is curious that Denmark appears to be focusing on reducing congestion, which is a difficult objective to achieve unless all light vehicles are put onto a RUC system.  I'll look forward to more information in due course.