Toll Collect, a German company, began extracting roughly 25 cents per mile from trucks using German highways since January 1, using a unique satellite-based toll collection system, according to a report in the International Herald Tribune on May 19.
Since the beginning of the year, trucks above 12 metric tons - a total of 417,000 through the first quarter - have been installed with units linked to a satellite global positioning system. The units tell Toll Collect what distance the vehicles have driven on toll roads.
Delays in deployment led to the German government threatening to cancel the contract in late 2003. Yet the system works well enough now that other European nations are assessing a system (Hungary, Poland, Russia, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Denmark) or taking bids to implement one (Czech Republic).
Truck owners can install the units at garages in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. They get billed monthly for usage, and Toll Collect forwards the money to the German government. The government received a total of 909 million Euros so far this year in tolls, according to the Tribune report. The program is run by DaimlerChrysler and Deutsche Telekom on a government contract.
A similar plan is being looked at in Britain as well. Trucks in Britain pay for road use via a fuel tax that is one of the highest in the European Union at about $3.26 a gallon. The tax is dedicated to maintaining the transportation system. Vehicles from outside the country, including many that fill up just before arriving, dodge this cost entirely, something the new system will change.
The plans call for British trucking companies to receive a rebate of the fuel taxes they pay corresponding to the tolls they are charged, making the new system cost-neutral for them, according to the Tribune report.
(Ed. note: We reported on a U.S. government proposal for per-mile fees in the May 12 issue of Driving Force.
for that story.)