Commentary

Netherlands to Replace Car Taxes with Distance Charges

I reported yesterday that the Netherlands is proposing to replace its vehicle taxes with a distance- based charge closer to a real user fee. Today, I found an English language explanation published by the Dutch government of the new approach that is well worth a quick read. Perhaps most notable is the argument that the new fee system is intended to make driving cheaper, not more expensive. The intent appears to move toward a new funding platform for road infrastructure rather than an instrument for reducing mobility.

Key features of the proposal also appear to mirror the pilot road charging project pioneered in Portland, Oregon, including

  • Peak and off-peak charging
  • Dedicating the revenues to an infrastructure fund, not general government spending
  • Substitituting the distance-based charge for the other taxes to keep the proposal revenue neutral (or even reduce costs to drivers)

Unfortuantely (for the US), this is another example of where Europeans are making the investments necessary to be on the leading edge of transportation policy while American policymakers wallow in the ideas of the mid-20th century.

Samuel R. Staley, Ph.D. is a senior research fellow at Reason Foundation and managing director of the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University in Tallahassee where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in urban planning, regulation, and urban economics. Prior to joining Florida State, Staley was director of urban growth and land-use policy for Reason Foundation where he helped establish its urban policy program in 1997.