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What do politicians really need to know? Jan A. Martinsen Norwegian Public Roads Administration Presentation on TRB’s International symposium on road pricing.

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Presentation on theme: "What do politicians really need to know? Jan A. Martinsen Norwegian Public Roads Administration Presentation on TRB’s International symposium on road pricing."— Presentation transcript:

1 What do politicians really need to know? Jan A. Martinsen Norwegian Public Roads Administration Presentation on TRB’s International symposium on road pricing Key Biscayne, Florida November 19 –22, 2003

2 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Motivation 1)Norway is probably the largest country in terms of user charging schemes, relatively speaking 2)Prior to their implementations, these scheme are subjected to decision making at different political levels Lessons can be learnt on what politicians really need to know as a premise for sanctioning road user charging schemes. What they want to know might not be the same.

3 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Map of Norway With Tolls Plotted  Population 4,4 million  Number of cars 2,3 million  Length public roads km  Total road funding 1,6 billion USD  Road construction 650 million  45 toll schemes operating  Toll payment 460 million USD  Number of people killed 300  People killed pr million vehicle km is ∙ ∙ ∙ ∙ ∙

4 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Key aspects of Toll Road projects All user charge projects are based on local initiative and approval only The period of toll collection is normally limited to 15 years Normally 50% of construction costs must be financed by tolls All projects must be approved by Parliament All financially sound projects are approved Those paying toll must also benefit

5 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Toll financing and road pricing are not the same ! Toll rings on existing roads to pay for new infrastructure is a unique success in Norway The purpose of tolls in Norway is to raise funds for infrastructure investment, not for regulating traffic. Time differentiated charges are allowed but little used. Road pricing in Norway means congestion charging with the purpose to reduce traffic during peak hours The Norwegian Parliament has recently made road pricing possible, but no road pricing schemes has so far been implemented Road pricing and toll financing are not allowed at the same time in the same area

6 Norwegian Public Roads Administration The politicians role in planning and decision making Very strong political influence on road projects in Norway, even from Parliament Politicians at the national level allocate funds, approve all toll and road pricing schemes, decide transport policies and prioritise trunk roads County politicians prioritise ordinary national roads even when funded by Parliament, allocate funds for county roads and public transport Local politicians decide on land use and road location and alignment and suggest user charging schemes

7 Norwegian Public Roads Administration How to deal with congestion The goal is to ensure acceptable mobility for people and goods Measures must be designed according to level of congestion or city size Congestion can either be accepted as normal part of city life, or be reduced by : - Adding more road capacity - Improving public transportation - Restriction on car use such as road pricing, parking

8 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Do we need road pricing in Norway? –There are congestion in Norwegian cities, but only in Oslo, Bergen and maybe Trondheim –Congestion is confined to two hours in the morning and evening rush hours –The level of congestion is small in an international context. Average delay on selected routes in Oslo is 9 minutes with 23 minutes on the most congested route –The crucial question is whether congestion is big enough to get political accept for road pricing

9 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Bridging the information gap The majority of people are opposed to user pricing. They feel they already pay too much Politicians may accept it as the only realistic solution knowing the alternatives Essential for politicians to explain purpose and benefits to voters. Better information gives more positive attitudes Oslo in 1990 was a success story due to good information and extra public funding

10 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Arguments for and against road pricing For road pricing Will reduce congestion and improve the environment Remaining traffic will gain in travel time savings Income may also be used to improve public transport Against road pricing Equity problems Motorists pay high taxes already Privacy issues Downtown businesses will suffer Technical solutions?

11 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Attitudes to the toll ring in Oslo

12 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Converting toll rings into congestion pricing schemes This is the main user charge issue in Norway today Political commitment to remove toll rings in 2005/7 Projects for billions still not funded. Extension in time seems possible in Oslo. Hot debate in Trondheim Transport authorities recommend road pricing as part of transport policy in Oslo Analysis show that it is possible to avoid further traffic growth by combining many measures Unwise to take down toll rings without doing anything else as traffic will increase and funding decrease

13 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Converting toll rings into congestion pricing schemes, cont Conservatives that understand the law of supply and demand still oppose paying more during peak hours ? Conservatives that traditionally favor business and middle class, oppose road pricing, and focuses now on equity and the poor ! Socialists favoring the poor support road pricing ! Contradiction ? Conservatives want to reduce burden of taxation and favor road investment, even in cities. Socialists want to reduce traffic in cities to avoid investing in new roads

14 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Converting toll rings into congestion pricing schemes, cont Cities needs revenues for further investment in roads, they need congestion pricing to ease delays and they need better funding for public transportation Restrictions about not combining tolls and congestion pricing makes this very difficult Amendments to existing laws to obtain more flexibility are strongly recommended Surveys show that 41 % mean toll ring should be taken down regardless, but 36 % supports extension if the revenue goes to public transport.

15 Norwegian Public Roads Administration So what do the politicians really need to know ? Our experience tells us the following: 1.Public acceptance is alfa and omega for politicians to sanction pricing schemes. However politicians are ahead of voters in knowledge 2.They must gain something from taking unpopular decisions, e.g. more money to spend locally. Extra public money is essential ! 3.In Tønsberg town the politicians in favor of a proposed cordon ring lost majority the recent election 4.To obtain support for road pricing, revenues must also be spent for the benefit of car users

16 Norwegian Public Roads Administration So what do the politicians really need to know ? 1.Politicians needs to know how pricing will effect local community, business, land use, environment etc 2.Politicians must understand the alternatives to road pricing, e.g what happens if nothing is done 3.Politicians must deal with unpopular reactions and be able to explain the benefits of pricing to the public 4.Local politicians must be shown success stories from other cities 5.Local politicians need a better understanding of professional advise. Economic theory should be translated into simple language

17 Norwegian Public Roads Administration So what do the politicians really need to know ? And finally : They must not focus on unpopular pricing issues shortly before local elections ! Sometimes local politicians may want national politicians to take unpopular decisions for them

18 Norwegian Public Roads Administration Thank you for your attention ! For more information, pleas contact: Mr Jan A Martinsen Leader of Transport Analysis section Norwegian Public Roads Administration Phone : Mobile:


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