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Road tolls canvassed in secret ministry paper

The Local · 18 Apr 2011, 15:10

Published: 18 Apr 2011 08:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 18 Apr 2011 15:10 GMT+02:00

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Despite denying for more than a year that any kind of toll for private cars was being considered, Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer’s bureaucrats have written a discussion paper outlining options.

The paper, titled, “Various scenarios for an e-ticket on federal motorways and regional roads,” has been leaked to daily Bild.

The government was forced into damage control Monday, insisting it had no plans for such a toll.

“There will be no toll,” deputy government spokesman Christoph Steegmans said on Monday in Berlin.

A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer said that no such policy was being prepared in the minister’s office.

“A toll on passenger vehicles is not, and has not been, under discussion.”

But the discussion paper reveals the government has at least been calculating how much money it could earn if it hits motorists with tolls even on roads already built, totalling as much as €365 per year, Bild reported.

Ramsauer told the paper: “There is no ban on ideas in my office. Where would we be if we prohibited experts from looking at every angle on infrastructure financing.”

He has repeatedly said in the past that such tolls were not part of the centre-right government's coalition agreement and were therefore not on the table.

The calculations consist of four options for cars and trucks of up to 12 tonnes gross weight. Each option has a maximum price tag per year for any one vehicle, ranging from €80 to €365.

Story continues below…

People who drive infrequently or foreigners passing through Germany could buy a two-month ticket for €30 or a 10-day ticket for €10. This option would bring in €3.41 billion to the government.

Maximum rates of €100, €155 and €365 are also canvassed, with corresponding shorter-period options also available. The most expensive option would deliver the government €15.5 billion per year.

The Local/djw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:27 April 18, 2011 by Katfre
The problem isn't that Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer¦#39;s bureaucrats are considering a road toll! It is the fact that he has lied about it.
09:52 April 18, 2011 by 9900lawre
If your a car driver then 80euro per year doesn't sound too bad if it covers all roads across Germany. The UK doesn't have toll on a national level yet (just one road the M6)but sees an increase in Road Fund Licence ("Kfz-Steuer")every year. Some cars are charged £465 per year and some cars only £105.

If Germany is going to use toll roads INSTEAD of a rise in "Kfz-Steuer" then it may be okay.

Whilst questionable about how you would enforce foreign drivers paying it, it sees an introduction to charging them for wear and tear on German roads. I'd like to see a charge for foreign drivers using UK roads.
10:04 April 18, 2011 by DocEllis
Politicans are always looking for more money to spend. They will always be looking for more money. We do not need more roads in this country. They are having trouble maintaining the roads they have. Stop building new roads. Fix the one we have now. Stop building new infrastructure and focus on maintaining the existing infrastructure and or reducing it. Otherwise we will see a user fee for PKW in this country.
10:14 April 18, 2011 by Ami-In-DE
Forget about hiding the study, I think the idea has merit. Why should German tax paypayers exclusively shoulder the tax burden for autobahn maintenance, when other EU motorists can travel on/through it for free. Why should German bicycle riders, some who don't even own a car--use rail and air travel for long distances, have to pay for this infrastructure cost?

Assuming that a portion of Germans' taxes already go toward the costs of Autobahn maintenance, it follows that if the payment model switches to "users of the roads shoulder the burden of highway maintenance costs", then in order for it to be fairly implemented, that existing tax burden piece should be correspondingly (somehow) reduced for the German taxpayer. Probably easier said than done.

In macro terms, I would imagine that today all German taxpayers are shouldering this burden, and no foreign travellers pay. In the toll-based model, income would reduce from not-Autobahn-travelling Germans, but increase from foreign travellers on the autobahn.
10:35 April 18, 2011 by Dizz
@ ami - you make a charmingly naive assumption that the toll revenues will be instead of existing forms of taxation. If that were so I would agree with you. Unfortunately I'm more cynical and think if tolls are instituted they would be in addition to what taxes there already are. Clue in the article - upto fifteen and a half billion euros additional income, nothing about redistribution of the tax burden.
10:44 April 18, 2011 by J-Dub
Just another way the German government wants to make us poor and themselves rich. Tax, tax, tax. This is all they care about. Vehicle tax is understandable, but when you have to pay tax on an animal and tax to drive on highways, where does it end? Sooner or later, you will need to pay tax based on the amount of water you use flushing the toilet while taking a dump or pay tax to eat fast food. There is a reason why Germany has become Europe's largest economy....making their own hardworking citizens BROKE while the politicians BASK in their wealth. Makes me want to VOMIT.
10:51 April 18, 2011 by michael4096
"Stop building new infrastructure.."

And, watch the german export machine come to a shuddering halt!

Germany needs its infrastructure. If you suspend growth of one form, you must invest in another to cover the deficit.

However, the idea that people pay for use is good as long as the cost of collecting is insignificant and that we take real costs and don't continue costing land and air as 'free'. Changing habits is best done slowly because there are plenty of jokers in the pack: they're called "unintended consequences".
11:03 April 18, 2011 by Ami-In-DE
Dizz, No I'm not in the least bit naive. I only stated the IDEA has merit IF it was implemented fairly from a tax vs. toll perspective. In reality, I sadly agree with you--the German taxpayer will take it up the wazoo again, and end up paying more for the same transportation infrastructure.
11:32 April 18, 2011 by fatherknowsbest
Toll roads ain't never going to happen anytime soon in Germany. Their introduction would be political suicide.
12:20 April 18, 2011 by tallady
The high tax on fuel paid by motorist should be more than sufficient to cover road and infrastructure expenses.

Tolls once imposed never go down nor away.If a new toll could guarantee me that I would not have to be stuck in a traffic jam on the infamous autobahn for hours, then I would gladly pay.
13:33 April 18, 2011 by steffsteff
The problem is not that Germans won´t be willing to pay the toll, the real problem is that the toll, same as comparable taxes, won´t be taken to maintain the streets.

We wonder where all the money goes. Potholes everywhere, closed roads, old pavements...

That´s also why we are so furious about the German taxes.

We don´t see any results of the governement´s promises.
15:09 April 18, 2011 by trash head
Result of the delusion of privatization
15:25 April 18, 2011 by whpmgr
I would like to say soemthing on this. Above someone asked why teh Bicycle riders or those who dont even own cars have to pay? Why do people with no kids have to pay taxes for local schools? Because they live in a society that benefits form the schools and the roads, so they get their food and other things from the roads, they do benefit and therefore must pay soemthing. The same amount? No, they dont buy gas,m they skip that tax. They dont own a car? They dont pay the Steuer for the cars.

One thing is sure, if they get this $300Plus Euros, they will get more later. It never stops. Look at the road between Kaiserslautern adn Ludwigshafen. Has it ever been without work on it? I know they have to keep people working, so it is a government jobs program, but hell, put money into industry and have these people transition into the civilian sector to cut down government costs.

I agree with Steffsteff in many ways. that person is right.
16:23 April 18, 2011 by jbaker
Toll Roads = Wealthy Politicians and Their Friends Becoming Filthy Rich.
18:22 April 18, 2011 by J-Dub
^^^^^^AGREE WITH ABOVE^^^^^^

High fuel prices=Politicians rich, us poor

High taxes=SAME AS ABOVE

The entire idea of TAX was originated to help the government cover costs of certain things that they were unable normally pay for. But the problem is in our society and today as we speak, the governments of the WORLD, not only Germany have taken advantage of the entire idea of how TAX was originated. They use it for their own political gain and to become richer. If we do have to pay this ridiculous garbage for using the Autobahn, I only request that if it happens in Merkel's term that they buy that broad something nice to wear instead of those dikey looking suits she wears.
19:54 April 18, 2011 by neunElf
.64 cts per litre, is that not enough to repair and maintain highway system? Diesel pays .47 cts per litre, how much more do they think we can stand?
10:16 April 19, 2011 by Dizz
I understand the vitriol but don't see the connection of how higher taxes / tolls directly enriches individual politicians. Presumably if they enjoy exemptions or subsidies then they are indirectly wealthier because they don't pay for all the things that a private citizen does. However in most countries if you get a company car or the company pays your rent those benefits are still taxable. If this does not apply in Germany (I'm not familiar with the German personal income tax regime) then indeed government employees and politicians are significantly better off. If they are taxed on benefits and deemed income then while the differential will remain it will not be much.
13:58 April 21, 2011 by dr_motte
this is a concept of privatization and a gain stealing what is owned by the public!
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