Jensen asks for a crisis summit on road tolls

Toll road Toll roads signMany Norwegian politicians believe that this means: "Do not stop placing these everywhere". Photo: Audun Ringen‎ / Bomfritt Jæren - NOK er NOK

Siv Jensen (Frp) asks for a crisis summit on road tolls

Leader of the Progress Party, Siv Jensen, says the Norwegian state and municipalities have to cough up more money to shield motorists from road tolls. She calls for a government summit on the matter.

“Enough is enough. It’s the clear feedback we get from people on road tolls. The toll road load has become too high. I have therefore taken the initiative to meet with the party leaders of the four government parties, where we will sit down and discuss the situation and see what we can do,” Norwegian Minister of Finance, Siv Jensen, tells VG.

Jensen confirms to NTB that she has taken the initiative to a summit with the party leaders of the Conservatives (Høyre), Christian Democrats (KrF) and Liberals (V) to discuss the toll issue.

“We work towards the least possible road tolls for most people and want to look at what we can do to reduce the burden. A burden which is becoming too large for many to shoulder,” she states.

Tightening the ability to increase road tolls

Minister of Transport, Jon Georg Dale (Progress Party), went out to say that reduced road toll revenues in cities should not be met by increasing the fees for motorists on Monday.

He, at the same time, tightens the access to increase road tolls in urban areas with urban growth agreements. This means that if there is no longer compliance between revenue and expenses in the road toll packages, then the motorists mustn’t shoulder that.

“I expect that what we do now provides better management of projects in the road toll packages and that we will put an end to unnecessary further growth in the road tolls,” Dale writes in a press statement.

He asserts that this means that in some cases one will have to slash projects in the urban traffic agreements.

“The scheme will in practice mean that if the revenue drop or the costs increase, the projects must be removed from the package; if the projects are not scaled down or costs are reduced,” the Minister of Transport explains.



Rebellion against road tolls

Bulging transport packages – and road toll increases to fund them – cause much turmoil in several Norwegian cities ahead of this autumn’s municipal elections.

the rage is immense, especially in Western Norway. In Bergen, the protest party «The People’s Action – No More Road Tolls» (FNB) caused shock waves when they polled as the city’s second largest party. They received 20.6 per cent voter support in the Bergensavisen poll in May, second only to the Conservatives.

The Progress Party (FRP), which also has a lessening of road tolls as an important point on the agenda, is down to a meagre 3.9 per cent support in the same poll. The municipal elections will be held on September 9th, 2019.

Road pricing

The road toll rebellion is also noticed by the other parliamentary parties. It is (finally) a widespread consensus among MPs that the current road toll system is unfair. They, however, disagree on how to deal with it.

The Progress Party recently decided they want to spend NOK 100 billion on removing road tolls. The Liberals, as a party, wants to keep the scheme as is. The MPs Jon Gunnes and Abid Raja, however,-in a chronicle in Dagbladet on Sunday – advocated increasing the Norwegian state’s share from 50 per cent to 70 per cent for major projects. KrF, more or less, adopted the same at its National Convention at Sola last month, without exact quantification.

Several members of the Conservatives advocate replacing the current system with road pricing (GPS) in the longer term, which the Centre Party and Labour wish for.

This is by many viewed as choosing between pest and cholera.

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