THE NEW system for electronic collection of tolls for use of highways and first class roads across Slovakia will start on January 1, 2010. Trucks and buses and other vehicles over 3.5 tonnes will pay the toll based on the number of kilometres driven. The satellite-based toll collection system will cover more than 2,000 kilometres of roads with six highway gates and 40 control gates on parallel first class roads.
The new system will replace the current system of highway stickers. The government hopes that it will bring more money into state coffers which can be invested back into the roadway infrastructure.
The construction of facilities required for the new system is in the final phase. ČESMAD, the association of transport companies, signed an agreement about operation of contact and border distribution centres with SkyToll, the administrator of the new toll system. The agreement seeks to secure a trouble-free transfer from the highway sticker system to electronic toll collection.
ČESMAD will operate 21 of 90 distribution locations where carriers can acquire the required on-board units (OBUs). The electronic system, via satellite monitoring of the OBUs, will know the locations of vehicles and automatically calculate the number of kilometres driven on toll roads. The users will pay for the kilometres driven on the basis of either a pre-paid or post-paid scheme.
It is estimated that about 90,000 vehicles will be subject to the new system in Slovakia, public broadcaster Slovak Radio reported. The Transport Ministry expects the new system to increase annual revenues from fees paid for use of highways and first class roads to €183 million – but this estimate does not reflect any potential drop in road transport caused by the economic crisis.
ČESMAD expects that carriers will encounter increased costs and that these may be reflected in higher prices for customers.
Most hauliers consider the electronic collection system to be fairer than stickers since they will only pay for kilometres driven based on the category of the vehicle, its emission class and the number of axles.
The final toll for a vehicle will depend on its weight, the number of axles and the type of engine, allowing more environmentally friendly vehicles to pay lower tolls. The toll will be between €0.06 and €0.21 per kilometre, according to the NDS website.
Tolls on first class roads will be lower than on highways and dual carriageways. Slovakia has decided to include first class road in the toll system to prevent a situation in which heavy vehicles bypass tolled highways by using these roads.