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Do motorcyclists pay more on taxes than they get in return?

Road users – especially car drivers and motorcyclists – pay much more on taxes and tolls than they get in return on infrastructure investments. This is the main outcome of a FIA commissioned report by the Dutch organization CE Delft.

FEMA’s general secretary Dolf Willigers attended the launch of campaign ‘A better deal for motorists’, organized by FIA Region 1.

Some highlights from the report:

  • Motorists in the EU (except Cyprus) paid in 2014 € 286.3 billion on vehicle taxes and charges. Car drivers contributed 71% of this, motorcycle drivers 3%.
  • In 2013 a total of € 178.4 billion was invested into the road network, so you could say that only 62.3% of the money you pay comes back. Of the total costs of infrastructure only 1% can be allocated to motorcycles, so you could say motorcyclist get even less in return for their payments.
  • The overall cost coverage for motorcycles is 266% (passenger cars 214%). On national level large differences can be seen:  in Estonia 84% (so you pay less than you get in return), in Denmark you pay more than 12 times than the investments: 1226% (cars 342%).
  • Since 2006 investments in road infrastructure have been declining from 1.1% of the total Gross Domestic Products (GDP) in the EU countries to less than 0.8% in 2013. The decline is sharpest in the eastern European countries.

Click here to download the full FIA report (127 pages, pdf).

EU Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc

At the launch of the campaign Violeta Bulc, EU Commissioner for Transport, mentioned that the report only mentioned the costs of infrastructure and not the integral costs. This is right of course, but you can also argue that the benefits of cars and motorcycles are also more than the taxes paid by their owners.

Violeta Bulc also said: “It is clear that the road network needs upgrading and more investment. The European Commission will be carrying out a case study on road taxes and charges. We will examine the FIA’s results and build on its conclusions to ensure that road users are fairly charged in a transparent manner. Our aim is to create a level playing field, which supports interoperability and multimodal use of the transport network.”

The event was hosted by Dutch member of the European parliament Wim van de Camp (EPP). He said “The quality of our road infrastructure affects safety, comfort and sustainability. If we want a user-pays system, what a user pays needs to be reinvested wholly into what is used.” However, he warned that such a system would lead to budget problems elsewhere, like health care.

FEMA vision
quote_fia_101116You could argue for a system where everything the road users pay, comes back in direct investments in infrastructure. This is a political consideration. Fact is that the balance between taxes and charges on the one hand and expenditures in infrastructure on the other hand, has become more out of balance since 2006, which is a worrying observation. Fact is also that – at least in the short term – society cannot function without individual motorised transport. This should therefore be affordable and we share the conclusion of FIA that governments should refrain from proposing additional road taxes or charges and that they should make better use of the revenue currently generated. We would like to add that motorcyclists are now overcharged. To create a level playing field, and as a contribution to solve present and future congestion problems, taxes and charges for motorcyclists should be lowered to the level where they contribute relatively the same amount to the investments as the other road users.