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Several vehicles arrive at the Etxebarri-Ibiña toll in Álava. B. Castillo
Experts insist motorway tolls should be kept despite Spanish government ruling it out
Transport

Experts insist motorway tolls should be kept despite Spanish government ruling it out

Fedea (Foundation of Applied Economic Studies) said Spain needs a pay-as-you-go system based on the principle that the "polluter pays"

Edurne Martínez

Madrid

Friday, 22 March 2024, 17:34

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The Spanish government has scrapped motorway tolls in its latest recovery plan, but experts say it's the wrong move.

Fedea (Foundation of Applied Economic Studies) said Spain needs a pay-as-you-go system based on the principle that the "polluter pays". "It would be convenient to shift a greater responsibility of the costs of the transport system to its users to correct things such as road congestion and thus bring private costs closer to social costs," said think tank executive director Ángel de la Fuente.

Last week, it was the construction employers' association (Seopan) that sparked debate about reintroducing tolls, alluding to large public spending on motorway maintenance that could go towards other investments. Seopan president Julian Núñez said implementing a pay-as-you-go model would not be free, but would require an initial investment by the state of around one billion euros, but he pointed out three to five billion euros would be recovered per year due to lower costs and increased revenue.

Fedea's analysis pointed out the greater income obtained through this means could be reinvested in subsidies for urban public transport. These recommendations should be incorporated into the sustainable mobility law project, currently going through parliament. However, Fedea criticized the text "does not point in the right direction", especially due to the lack of evaluation of the measures it proposes. "There is a great lack of technical 'know how' necessary to carry out these measures," said the experts, who take this law as a "toast to the sun" (a Spanish phrase which means an impressive but empty gesture).

The high-speed network, an excess

In Spain, transport policies have been carried out according to political issues, Fedea criticised. The high-speed rail network is "a fantastic service when you use it", but they pointed out that the cost of the infrastructure is so high it is impossible to cover it with the volume of passengers in Spain. Fedea also said how the system is centralised in Madrid is "a purely political decision, not a rational one".

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