What is the price of mobility?

Traffic is rising steadily. The fuel tax as the main source of income will soon have to be replaced by a fair mobility pricing system. The 41st ITA dossier explains what should be considered.

In the last thirty years, traffic has doubled. The range of offers, infrastructure and support measures are not yet sufficient for the majority of us to switch to an electrically powered vehicle. This is how our environmentally inefficient cars continue to smoke and steam when we are stuck in traffic jams, which cost the EU over 80 billions of euros a year. Part of the money comes from the fuel taxes and in Austria from the motorway toll, which is also supposed to finance the maintenance of the many kilometres of motorway - at least in part.

Alternative pricing is in demand

What will we pay in the future to get from A to B? To find an answer to this question, you have to look at the trend change towards e-mobility as well as the development of public transport. After all, every second Austrian travels by car - 50.5% of the trips on an average working day to be exact. However, electric vehicles and the switch to public transport have an effect that should not be underestimated financially: the taxation of petrol is an essential source of income for refinancing and would decrease if we were to use less of it. Alternative pricing is needed. Should we pay for actual kilometres travelled, and if so, what will happen to the price of bus and train tickets?

Transparent pricing models to prevent conflicts

Mobility prices should be designed in such terms that they produce optimal tax effects from a social point of view. They could also help to reduce pollution and achieve environmental goals, says Tanja Sinozic, co-author of the 41st ITA dossier. The purpose of pricing models in the field of mobility and the sensible use of revenues must be clearly defined and transparently presented. The aim is to find a balance between possible areas of conflict, including increasing revenues for expenses other than fuel taxation or dealing with utilisation and capacity on rails and roads, without mentioning environmental protection measures and their costs. In order to prevent potential conflicts in time, the resulting interest groups should have the opportunity to play an active role in shaping solutions.

The future costs of transport and its impact on the environment cannot be accurately estimated. So far, there is no common overall mobility pricing system that aims to set prices for mobility in a way that does not contradict the two principles "user pays" and "polluter pays".


Steering mobility through pricing. ITA dossier no. 41en (pdf)

By: TB

Motorway tolls are one of the sources of revenue for rising traffic costs (Photo: shutterstock)