Brussels' proposed car toll would hinder long-term mobility, Touring says

Brussels' proposed car toll would hinder long-term mobility, Touring says
Traffic in Brussels. Credit: Belga.

The proposed toll scheme on vehicles entering Brussels would push users to take riskier alternatives and is not a viable mobility policy for the long term, according to insurance and mobility organisation Touring.

In an effort to avoid the tax, commuters coming into Brussels could face new risks as they swap out their cars for motorbikes or bicycles, Lorenzo Stefani, a spokesperson for Touring said.

"Safe infrastructures for two-wheelers and electric bicycles on which you can easily ride into and out of Brussels at 50 kilometres per hour are not there yet," he said. "So this could force people to take a risky alternative because, as of today, too many roads in Brussels are still too dangerous for bikes."

Stefani's comments come in reaction to a tax scheme put forward by Brussels minister for mobility, Elke Van den Brandt, which would see drivers entering Brussels taxed in accordance with the time of day or type of vehicle driven.

The Touring spokesperson said they would support the implementation of a smart kilometre tax applied uniformly across the regions.

Van den Brandt's move comes as plans for an interregional car tax scheme are bogged down by Wallonia and Flanders, where progress on the formation of their regional governments is stalling.

"If it is going to take ten more years for the other regions to make up their mind, we cannot afford to wait in Brussels," Van den Brandt said, according to BX1. The office of the Brussels mobility minister did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Urgent need to find an alternative

The tax has been denounced by road and mobility organisations, who say people coming to work into the capital from other regions could face double taxation if it is implemented, a criticism echoed by the Touring spokesperson.

"It is out of the question for people coming to Brussels and contributing to its economy every day to be taxed twice," Stefani said, calling on Brussels to work with other regions instead of going at it alone.

"The regions must reach an agreement regarding this issue of taxation or Brussels will just have to find other solutions — urgently," he said, adding that commuters would be punished, left to navigate the jumble of different interregional policies alone.

"It is not normal for people to be obliged to, for example, take up an additional transport pass," he said, referring to the different transport operators in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia.

"At some point, politicians must be firm and resolve to create uniform mobility policies at a fiscal and regulatory level," Stefani said.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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