The transportation ministers of Germany's states will discuss a controversial plan to introduce a car toll on the country's highways on Wednesday. Plans to privatize roads are also on the table.
An unlikely consequence of a car toll on German highways
While truck drivers already have to pay a toll on the autobahn, car drivers have so far helped finance road construction via Germany's gas tax.
That's why supporters of a toll, which could come in the form of an annual fee of 100 euros ($120), said that gas taxes would have to be lowered in return.
States however seem split on the matter. While Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saxony-Anhalt, Saxony and Bremen back the plan, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia have come out in opposition.
German Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe also cautioned against additional burdens for commuters, adding that many might switch to second-tier roads in order to avoid the toll and put further strain on the latter network.
The Netherlands also has a toll system in place
According to reports, the proposal for the toll is similar to the Austrian model, where drivers can buy passes for an entire year or a shorter period of time such as just a few days.
Privatizi n g roads?
Economic Minister Wolfgang Clement meanwhile suggested that Germany should consider privatizing highways to raise money for the state.
"We need to go step by step towards the privatization of the motorways," Clement told Bild am So n n tag newspaper. "The receipts will, on one hand, allow us to continue with public investments, and, on the other hand, finance the budget of the federal and regional states."
Rush hour on a German highway
The paper also said SPD and CDU leaders, who are likely to form Germany's next government, had discussed the motorway privatization project during a meeting Thursday.
Clement proposed the creation of a commission to present the privatization project within a year, the paper said.
A motorway privatization project proposed in December 2004 failed to materialize.