Road tolls protests on May Day is voter bait

Road tolls StavangerFrom its humble start in the Stavanger region, the slogan "enough is enough!" has spread like wildfire in urban Norway. Photo: Pieter Wijnen / NTM

Road tolls protests on May Day is voter bait

The Norwegian Institute for Transport Economics (TØI) asks where the opposition against increased road tolls was when the matters were handled politically, and believes the elections this autumn are the reason why politicians are now joining the bandwagon.

The road toll issue sails up as one of the major issues in several cities before the municipal elections. The last few months have been marked by protests and actions across Norway, especially those faced with de facto toll walls.

The dethroned Deputy Leader of Labour, Trond Giske, entered the pulpit on May Day to say that: the Labour party must take a time-out on the issue.

“It’s time for the Labour Party to put the foot down and exclaim that enough is enough,” Giske told Dagbladet after his speech.

In addition, Drammen LO paraded behind the slogan «No to antisocial tolls».

The Mayor of Sandnes, Stanley Wirak (Labour) has further changed his view. Wirak now demands that the municipalities in the Stavanger region scrap the rush hour fee of NOK 44.

Leader av Red, Bjørnar Moxnes, tells NRK that road tolls are antisosial.

“Red is against road tolls in a number of municipalities, both in Oslo and in Bergen (but not in Stavanger, for example), Red has been against the tolls because it is antisocial. There are other ways to garnish money, rather than from those who possess the least of it,” he argues.


The election brings many out of the woodwork

Assistant Director of TØI, Kjell Werner Johansen, states that there is a lot of attention around road tolls at the moment after being quiet for many years.

TØI have been one of the parties whose input have largely been ignored in the process

“It looks like the upcoming election is luring many out of the woodwork – something which causes more people to pay attention to road tolls. Part of this is voter bait,” Johansen explains.

“The opposition has not been visible when tolls have been treated politically locally, or by the Norwegian Parliament. Not even those possessing the least that drive cars,” he elaborates.

Johansen further believes that is wrong to say that those who possess the least are the hardest hit:

“It is not those who possess the least who are affected, it is wrong to say that this group is driving [at all]. But it certainly affects many others.”

“Does the Institute for Transport Economics have any opinion regarding road tolls?” NRK asks.

“We have a professional opinion. We know that when it costs more to drive in the cities, that reduces traffic. The professional basis indicates that it is stupid to place toll roads outside the cities. It has been shown that in some places state-of-the-art roads are built, but toll financing is so excessive that many choose old and more dangerous roads instead,” he replies.

Johansen understands that Norwegians think that they pay a lot in road tolls.

“In a few years, toll fees have increased sharply, by a total of NOK three billion in a 2 or 3 years. That said, the total taxes on ownership and use of cars have decreased by as much as NOK 13 billion from 2011 to 2018. It is thus cheaper to use a car than in a long time,” the Assistant Director of TØI concludes.

© NRK / #Norway Today
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