Road-user electric vehicle charges determined by distance driven were presented in November 2020 by the governments of South Australia and Victoria, while New South Wales ministers feel differently. These charges are based on factors that include the costs of road use and congestion.

Some claim the new charges will deter the purchase of ecofriendly vehicles. But in places like New Zealand, incentives for purchasers of electric vehicles offset the effects of road user charges.

One justification behind a distance-based charge for electric vehicles is that petrol vehicle owners pay fuel excise, presently 42.3 cents per litre. With average fuel use of approximately 10.8 litres per 100km for Australian vehicles, drivers pay excise tax of approximately 4.6 cents per kilometre for road usage. This is higher than Victoria’s proposed distance charge of 2.5 cents per kilometre for electric cars.

The typical passenger vehicle in Australia was driven about 11,100km in the year to June 2020 (the pre-COVID number stood at approximately about 13,000km).

Although the excise is not devoted to funding streets, the Australian government does fund road building and upkeep. Australia’s three sectors of government spent A$28.5 billion on roads in 2018-19. It makes sense that electric vehicle drivers do their part to support the roads they utilise.

It has been argued on the contrary that Australia’s dedication to electric cars has not been speedy and governments should be advocating a turn from fossil fuels. The primary disincentive is the purchase price of a new electric car, comparable to a luxury car.

Governments could deal with this problem by lessening taxes on electric vehicle buys or supplying a subsidy for these purchases, as New Zealand has done.

Infrastructure Australia discovered that the cost of road congestion in the six most sizable capitals and their satellite cities was approximately A$19 billion in 2016. If infrastructure did not fall in line with demand, this was likely to shoot up to A$39 billion annually by the year 2031.

Yet as has been proven, the construction of more roads does not solve the problem of congestion. More demand equals more cars and more car trips.

Demand is rising for road-user charges on these cars, including from Infrastructure Partnerships Australia in 2019 and RMIT researchers in November 2020.

COVID-19 has ‘driven’ people back into their cars. Prior to recent outbreaks lessening travel overall, street traffic in Australian cities was as much as 25% above pre-pandemic quantities.

The answer for road congestion is a mixture of improved public transport and road congestion charges. This can be a fee to come into a cordon or a charge per kilometre. It can change with the time of day.

In NSW, a ministerial inquiry into sustainable transport suggested these charges in 2004. A sizable percentage of submissions in response to a 2002 federal AusLink green paper expressed a reference for congestion pricing. Many Conversation articles have favoured this policy.

In a forward-looking strategy, available for public consultation, Infrastructure Victoria suggests a review in the next 24 months of the Melbourne congestion levy on parking, congestion pricing for new metropolitan freeways and, within five years, a trial of widescale congestion pricing in the inner Melbourne area.

Singapore has applied congestion pricing since the year 1975 and automated electronic road pricing since the year 1998.

London applied a cordon scheme in 2003. The benefits equal less traffic, noise and air pollution and with enhanced public transport. The plan has been changed through the years and access is free of charge for electric cars and some hybrids and smaller cars.

Other larger scale communities with congestion pricing are Stockholm and Milan. New York could follow in 2022. A congestion tax is also being considered for Auckland.

In 2017 Australia, concealed subsidies for hefty truck usage in the form of unrecovered road system expenses, and the external prices of road accidents, pollution, emissions, noise and road congestion, equaling about A$3 billion a year. This shortfall will equal approximately A$4 billion.

Australia should debut mass distance pricing, like was put in place in New Zealand since 1978 and in Europe. It depends on yearly registration fees and a discount heavy vehicle fuel excise of 25.8 cents per litre. These charges have stayed at the same level for five years.

Suggestions for a small 2.5% increase in the heavy vehicle fuel charge were set aside after COVID-19 hit. They are now being reviewed once again.

One in three submissions to a federal inquiry into devising a National Freight and Supply Chain Strategy emphasised the requirement for road pricing. The finalised 2019 strategy does not address this topic, despite an estimated doubling of road freight by the year 2040.

The failure to change road pricing, paired with continuing relaxing of mass and dimension limits for heavy trucks could lead to ever more “loads on roads” at the expense of rail freight and coastal shipping.

In 2002, Treasury secretary, Ken Henry, asserted that a failure to address these issues now could pose issues for future generations.

In 2010, the Henry Tax Review recommended that Australian governments quicken the development of mass-distance-location pricing for heavy vehicles.

The review also suggested that governments review network-wide advantages and expenses of instituting variable congestion pricing on tolled roads and extending it across congested sections of the road network.

Road pricing reform needs to happen now—and in consideration of electric vehicles.


Source: Architecture and Design.Com. Au