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We'll never leave our cars!

Ok, I'm going to reconnect with a couple of posts ago about cars, and I'll take the chance also to answer a couple of comments related to Road Taxes and Toll Roads.

Is a while that all the newspapers are occupied with discussions about the 'kilometer tax'. Whattheheck? To explain we have to take a quick tour of the dutch road taxes, so sit down and relax.

If you want to buy a new car in the Netherlands (and I'll underline new) you have to pay a "registration tax" that is basically the cost of getting it registered and acquiring the license plates. This is done once, when you buy it new and never again. If you buy a second-hand vehicle is already registered and you don't have to pay it again.

This kind of tax is a variable amount depending on the class of vehicle and it can reach 50% of the value of the vehicle itself. No, ain't a type. FIFTY percent. But note that I said 'it can reach' and not 'it is'. Bigger and more expensive cars have higher registration tax. So if you wanna do a splash and buy a 60.000 euros supercar prepare to pay 25.000 for registration.

Once registered, the vehicle has to pay the 'normal' road taxes, that is basically a tax over the 'consumption' of the road. This is calculated on the basis of the weight and size of the car. Bigger and heavier cars pays more.

Everybody still with me? Good. Now let's see what kind of problems this brings.

First of all, only about 10% of population "buy" cars, most of the time the car is provided by the company, which obtains discounts and can detract the car from taxes. Commercial vehicles (bus, vans...) have different rules. The result is that very few peoples are actually paying the full price. And the majority of car users uses the company-provided car also for private use. This translate in the view of happy families packed into electricians' vans on the move on saturdays and sundays... that translates into huge traffic jams even on those days.

To balance this last one, a couple of years ago the government tried to dump part of the costs onto who drives the vehicle, arguing (not without a reason) that if the vehicle belongs to the company, it should be used to do the company's interests and not 'just so'. So whoever uses his company-provided car for private use (vacations and the like) is supposed to cover part of the taxes and insurances of the same. But this brings other problems: how do you check?

In second, is a little complicated to define which vehicles are actually privates but simply bought by a company. When you find somebody with the 'company car' and such car is a Porsche...

In third palce, once the vehicle is registered, you don't have to pay registration anymore, this keeps the second-hand market running, so you can see 25-years old cars still used because they don't pay taxes anymore. So much for the environment.

The idea of the actual government is to get rid of both the registration and road tax and replace them with one single tax calculated on the basis of the actual usage and the vehicle's class. In practice, the more Kms you drive, the more you pay.

The government tried to put this in some kind of green-light way pretending to "push" to use public transportation and reduce pollutions...

It also tried to proof that the new system will reduce the amount of money spent. Now, this is just bullshit, since no government will ever pass a law that will reduce the amount of taxes. But let's forget about this.

There are obvious practical problems about this, like: how do you calculate the actual Kilometers? One of the proposals is to put some kind of 'black box' equipped with GPS tracking into each car, another revolves around using the existing cctv system on the roads coupled with a license scanning system, another one is simply to use the yearly "check" to guess the amount of Kms per year and so on. Each system has his own pro and con and you can figure them out on your own.

Anyhow, this morning on the newspaper there was a nice article citing the vp of some autoclub of sort who was (of course) against such scheme. The guy was exposing some kind of calculation (that reminded me of Zeno Paradoxes) that showed that a Merc was going to be cheaper than a Fiat Panda... nevermind.

The article cited a sentence of the aformentioned guy, something like: "Nobody will ever get us to leave our cars" and this is the only thing that was correct. And is also the core of the problem.

Who uses the car does it because he wants to. Not because he is "forced" in any way. And as long as those peoples won't be forced to, they will keep in using the car. Taxes or no taxes.

Some times ago the ANWB (the Dutch Motorclub) attempted some kind of national campaign of "days without trafic", basically they where asking people to do something voluntarily to remove the trafic from the roads. They picked a day (always on thursday, the most traficated day in the week) and asked the general public to submit "solutions" for that day. Obviously the solutions were mostly laughable: "I stay at home". Nice. And what about the other 364 days of the year? Because the problem is not solved doing it one day, if you can do it one day, you should be able to do it every day.

For your informations, the famous "day without trafic" turned out to be one with more trafic jams with an increase of 4% above the average.

Davide Bianchi
02/12/2009 18:11

Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.

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