Time to consider the vignette system for Croatia?
Goranko Fižulić, former minister of economy, has published a letter to the transport minister Siniša Hajdaš Dončić in which he proposed the introduction of vignettes on the Croatian motorways, according to a report in Vecernji List on August 3, 2015. “The long queues at the toll booths are solely the result of the old-fashion way of collecting tolls. I would ask you to explain to the public the reasons which prevent you from introducing vignettes”, wrote Fižulić in his letter and listed five reasons why vignettes should be introduced:
1. Increased revenues – Prior to 1990, Croatia had 302 kilometres of motorways, and Slovenia 150 kilometres. Now, Croatia has 1288 kilometres, and Slovenia 607 kilometres. Slovenia has introduced vignettes and in 2013 collected revenues of 327 million euros. In the same year, Croatia had revenues of 185 million euros.
2. Lower employee costs – Slovenian motorway company DARS has 1,237 employees, and HAC has 2,503 employees, with one third of them working on the collection of tolls. HAC spends 32 percent of revenues on salaries and other employee costs while DARS spends just 10,39 percent.
3. Annual vignettes for 546 kuna – Croatia has 1,450,000 passenger cars and 140,000 trucks. In 2013, 13.5 million foreign passenger cars entered Croatia. If each Croatian car owner buys an annual vignette which allows him unlimited use of the motorways, and if the cost of the vignette is set as twice the toll for Lučko-Dugopolje motorway (546 kuna), HAC would have annual revenue of 104 million euros. If foreign passenger cars buy a vignette for a minimum of seven days (30 euros), HAC would have additional annual revenue of 405 million euros. So, just from domestic and foreign passenger cars, the total revenues would climb to 509 million euros. And there would be additional revenues collected from trucks, both domestic and foreign.
4. Successful examples – Vignettes were successfully introduced, along with Slovenia, in Austria, Switzerland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, and Bulgaria. Germany will also introduce them starting on 1 January 2016.
5. Additional benefits – The value that HAC could achieve in the IPO process is directly dependent on the toll collection model. Domestic vehicles would use motorways in far greater numbers, which would reduce the cost of maintenance of other roads, increase safety and reduce the number of traffic accidents. The cost of using motorways would be drastically reduced for regular users of highways and the economy as a whole.