The digitalisation of the road infrastructure and a strong communication network will be required for a Cooperative Intelligent Transport System

The digitalisation of the road infrastructure and a strong communication network will be required for a Cooperative Intelligent Transport System

Infrastructure  |  Mobility  |  Business

Road Usage Charge: sustainably financing a new mobility

Which should be a telematics-based Road usage charge (RUC) system main goal? What kind of problem is it supposed to solve? Malika Seddi, Secretary General at ASECAP*, answers

Climate policy has become one of the highest priorities in Europe. The European Green Deal reaffirms the Commission’s ambition to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. 

Quoting President of the European Union, Ursula von der Leyen: “Becoming the first climate-neutral continent by 2050 requires significant investment from both the public and the private sector. Public finance needs to lead the way, private actors need to provide the scale”.

Achieving a climate neutral continent will require the full mobilisation of industry stakeholders. In this framework the toll motorway sector has been reaffirming its commitment to prepare the next generation mobility fulfilling the climate change challenges to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 90% in the transport by 2050, by fostering the deployment of green, safe and innovative transports, including multimodal and autonomous transports, as well as the deployment of alternative fuels’ infrastructure.

ASECAP members reaffirm their willingness to support the ambitious goals of the European Commission to reach carbon free objectives for a sustainable road infrastructure. Sustainable financing scheme based on user / polluter / pay principle, meaning tolling / Road Usage Charge (RUC) will definitely contribute to achieve the political goals as long as there is a clear earmarking on transport mobility solutions. 

How European tolling concessionaires have responded so far

The European road network represents the backbone of efficient movement of goods and people around Europe. It is built, operated, maintained and repaired with a long-term vision that ensures that the highest quality standards are reached. For more than three decades, motorway companies have been very much involved in Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) and innovation to provide customers the best mobility service, consisting in a safe, comfortable and uncongested travel on the motorways we operate. 

Thanks to the user / pay principle applied for sustainable financing, continuous investments have enabled the deployment of services matching the evolution of mobility and minimising the impact of road transport on the environment:

  • real time traffic information services (in-vehicle devices, smartphone applications, variable message signs)
  • travel time forecasting
  • dynamic speed limit regulation adjusting, in real time, speed according to traffic density
  • freeflow tolling
  • European wide interoperable electronic toll collection systems

These are just a few examples which are now common but have significantly contributed to reduce CO₂ emissions.

What ASECAP believes about future Road charging in Europe

European Motorway operators have started for several years the shift to greener mobility. More investments for mobility are needed as European cities are increasing in size and the population. Time for commuting, congestion, air pollution and noise are increasing everywhere in Europe. To face those challenges, toll road infrastructure operators propose to invest to boost new mobility frameworks and contribute to decarbonization of road transport to reach the target of carbon-free emission by 2050 by:

  • Deploying fast charging station network to foster the deployment of electrical cars and buses
  • Fostering shared mobility by creating carpooling parking
  • Adapting the existing motorway infrastructure to host new mobility options with multimodal solutions with reserved lanes for mass public transportation, 
  • Setting up recycling systems to collect and treat garbage but also reuse recycling asphalt to renew the pavement….
  • Developing photovoltaic screen to use solar power

Preparing the Cooperative Intelligent Transport Systems (C-ITS), autonomous driving arrival and answering to new mobility needs, this is how ASECAP members look to the future. The C-ITS depend on a good infrastructure and on the vehicle capacity to communicate effectively, together with a good equipment capable of ensuring this interface. The digitalisation of the road infrastructure as well as a strong communication network will be required. The expected impacts are considerable in terms of road safety and as well as for the network performance and also to reduce carbon footprint. 

It will require important investments relying on sustainable financing. From the standpoint of the view of road operators, the concession model relying on road user tolling/charging based on “user / polluter pays“ principle are efficient tool to enhance sustainable mobility. And, lastly, privacy issues in Europe are covered by the GDPR regulation and all the motorway companies have to comply with and they do so.

* ASECAP is the European Association of Operators of Toll Road Infrastructures across
20 member countries representing 135 companies employing more than 50.000 direct jobs and 200.000 indirect jobs. They finance, operate, maintain, manage a network of more than
86.000 km with a long-term vision that ensures highest quality standards to make the road infrastructure safest, reducing carbon footprint and preserving the environment thank to the concession model based user/polluter/payer principle providing sustainable financing.

Malika Seddi - Secretary General and CEO of ASECAP, European Association of Toll motorway Operators. She has been working in ASFA (Association of French toll motorway companies) as Director of International and European affairs. She has been active in IBTTA (International organization representing the toll operators) where she serves as Board member and as International Vice- President, ASECAP, serving as chair of ASECAP’s road safety and sustainable development committee, ERTICO-ITS Europe, member of program committee, and PIARC, a member of PIARC’s road safety committee. She was strongly involved in various ITS projects co-funded by the European Commission and in CESARE projects, which set up the basis of European ETC interoperability.

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