The kilometre tax that the Flemish Government would like to apply in a few years’ time to decongest some areas like the gridlock-prone Antwerp Ring could be extended to all roads in Flanders, according to a scenario prioritised by a consortium of consultants and lawyers commissioned by the Government to study the project, De Tijd newspaper reported on Wednesday. Previously, two scenarios had been envisaged for the new arrangement, which would take effect in 2024-2025 at the earliest, according to Flemish Mobility Minister Ben Weyts, who is leaving it up to the incoming regional government to take the formal decisions on the issue.
Under one scenario, a per-kilometre tax would be charged on vehicles when they are driven in given areas. In the other scenario, the tax would be charged throughout the regional road network, which does not preclude making it a “smart” tax, with the amounts varying according to time and place.
The consultants have been studying the issue for months, but thus far they have only focussed on the latter scenario, which they reportedly feel is the only one that could effectively fight the traffic jams.
The study has to be completed by April so that a complete dossier can be submitted to the next regional government, De Tijd recalled.
Contacted on Wednesday, the Touring mobility organisation said it was not formally opposed to the proposal of a kilometre tax throughout the Flanders road network but insisted on the need to think, at the same time, of “accompanying social measures”, particularly for people living far from work and without valid alternatives to cars.
These accompanying measures could include, for example, “more car-pooling garages, negotiating for more telecommuting, developing public transport outside cities or making bicycle highways,” Touring Spokesman Danny Smagghe said.
Moreover, “it would be rather ridiculous for us to have a tax per kilometre throughout Flanders, but not on the roads in the other regions,” he added.