It is increasingly likely that Croatian Motorways will keep the existing toll charging system.
According to latest information, it seems that the government has decided against the introduction of vignettes for charging for the use of motorways. An analysis has shown it would be better to keep the existing system with further enhancements, which is also advocated by the European Union, reports tportal.hr on November 21, 2016.
Until recently, the introduction of vignettes on motorways seemed like a done deal. One of their main proponents was Transport Minister Oleg Butković, who has changed his mind in the meanwhile. After an in-depth analysis of costs and benefits, it seems that a final decision has been reached. This was confirmed by the Minister who said that at the moment the most likely solution was further automation of the charging system, and not the introduction of vignettes.
The automation of the payment system mentioned by Butković implies further improvements of the existing system, and the introduction of an advanced GPS charging system in the future. The GPS charging system would monitor all vehicles on motorways through a network of satellites. This is a solution which is already in use to a certain extent in Germany. In this model, a satellite monitors a vehicle via built-in equipment, and the toll is paid based on the collected data. The advantage of a GPS billing system is its fast and inexpensive implementation, but the disadvantage is that it is not always accurate, since satellites can sometimes mix up roads which run parallel to motorways and vice versa.
In the more immediate future, we can expect an increase in the number of toll stations with automatic charging (credit cards, “ENC devices”), and the reduction in the number of stations which allow cash payments.
President of the Independent Road Trade Unions Mijat Stanić welcomed the decision. “Vignettes are an unfair billing system and therefore the European Commission is pressuring countries which have vignettes to abolish them. Another issue is that vignettes reduce income from the motorways, which means that someone would have to cover the difference”, said Stanić.
On the other hand, transport expert Ivan Dadić is disappointed by the decision. “The government does not understand this issue. They will spend a lot of money to improve the existing system, and when they introduce a GPS system, this equipment will be unnecessary”, warned Dadić. He is convinced that vignettes would be a better interim solution. “This would immediately lead to a GDP growth of 0.5 percent due to an increase in motorway use”, said Dadić. Unlike Stanić, he believes that the introduction of vignettes would lead to an increase in revenues, since the most used sections of motorways and expressways are currently free.
In support of the present system, Stanić said that about 50 percent of drivers already use “ENC devices” for automatic charging and that promotional campaign for their use should be launched. When it comes to the introduction of GPS charging, he noted that it was a project at the EU level, which would include a single system for all EU countries. However, to make this happen, it would be necessary to harmonize tolls in all countries and solve many other problems.
According to estimates by Minister Butković, the GPS toll system could be ready within five to six years. Dadić agrees that the introduction of a GPS system would be useful, but only if the tool collection is expanded to all roads, which would eventually allow the reduction of excise taxes on fuel and vehicles.