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Public willing to pay to drive

A narrow majority supports road pricing but politicians are hesitant to back the proposal


Car owners will have to pay for every kilometre they drive their car, if road pricing becomes reality (Photo: Scanpix)

January 16, 2014
17:30

by Andreas Jakobsen


A majority of Danes want to charge drivers for every kilometre on the road, according to a poll by online newspaper Altinget.dk.

The poll asked 1,023 people whether they supported so-called road pricing – 52 percent replied that they were for it, 28 percent were against it, and 20 percent remained undecided.

Radikale's transport spokesperson, Andreas Steenberg, said his party is ready to support the introduction of road pricing, but only if broad political support for the idea can be secured.

READ MORE: Road pricing proposed to improve productivity

Requires consensus
"If we make a deal across the aisle, we can slowly develop a system over a few years," Steenberg told Altinget.dk. 

A government-appointed productivity commission recommended road pricing last week, and in September the government-appointed congestion commission also recommended the system as the most effective way to deal with congestion, especially around Copenhagen during rush hour.

Transport minister Pia Olsen Dyhr (SF) has dismissed charging drivers for every kilometre on the road, arguing that the GPS technology – which is needed to track the cars – was unreliable and that Denmark shouldn't be a guinea pig for the system.

READ MORE: Transport minister dismisses road pricing

Facing challenges
But according to car owner's association, FDM, technology isn't the major barrier to implementing the system.

"We are not particularly concerned if it's technically possible. It's much more important to discuss if people are willing to pay more to drive in some areas than others," Torben Lund Kudsk, FDM's head of department, told Altinget.dk.

Kudsk, who was part of the congestion committee, added that tracking people's driving habits could invade their privacy, and recommended that the government assemble a new commission to evaluate the challenges of the system.

READ MORE: Panel wants car owners to pay to drive

Day trippers will also have to pay
Some detractors of road pricing argue that it would be difficult to charge foreign drivers for using Danish roads, as the cars need to be connected to a GPS tracking system during the duration of their stay.

But congestion commission member Harry Lahrmann, a traffic researcher from Aalborg University who supports road pricing, argues that there are ways to resolve this problem while not infringing on the EU's right to free movement.

"For instance, foreigners could buy a ticket for each day they plan to stay in the country. Another option is to provide them with a GPS tracker at the border that they return when they leave. That way we can make sure they pay the same amount as a Dane would," Lahrmann Lahrmann told The Copenhagen Post during an interview in September.



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