Vignettes Will Remain for Now

Slovenia will not keep the vignette tolling system for long, however, it will remain as long as a new, more sustainable and fair system of motorway tolling is found, Transport Minister Patrick Vlacic said.

He added that the Slovenian Motorway Company DARS could be facing a deficit of between EUR 30 and 70m, because it sold a lot less vignette stickers than expected.

Slovenia must introduce measures to make its motorway system sustainable. Financial structure of DARS is completely demolished, while the vignettes additionally worsened the problem, according to Vlacic.

When asked whether Slovenia will introduce vignettes for a period shorter than 6 months, Vlacic said the decidion would soon be made. Slovenia introduced the vignettes in June 2008. The only stickers available to car and bike drivers last for a minimum of six months.

This provoked disagreement especially in Slovenia’s neighbouring countries and what is more, the European Commission demanded the country introduced a sticker valid for a shorter period of time. However, Slovenia has not yet met its demands.

Vlacic explained that vignettes would be used as long as it will take Slovenia to find a new system. Although he pointed out that a new system could not be set up over night, he stressed that the issue should be tackled as soon as possible.

Vlacic believes that it will not be possible to introduce free-flow toll system in Slovenia as soon as it was predicted by the previous government (by the end of this year for cargo transport and for cars in 2010).

“It is only reasonable to introduce the satellite tolling system when and if the entire Europe introduces it, and when the needed on board units, which are still relatively expensive today, become a part of standard car equipment.”

He finds a fast introduction of free-flow toll for cars even less likely because alongside this new system, Slovenia would also have to offer an alternative, which would only lead to an even bigger deficit in DARS’s purse.
Vlacic believes that the solution to the tolling system will be a political and expert decision. “Systems exist, but we need to find the most rational one.” He added that the solution must be sustainable, user-friendly and fair.

Vlacic said that tolling prices for cargo transport could not remain as low as now, unless Slovenia stopped building roads. He pointed out that the country was facing a lot of transit traffic – a load for its infrastructure as well the environment.

He also said that the country’s own legislative frames slowed down the development of Slovenia’s motorway system. The ministry is thus to propose changes in public procurement and spatial as well as ownership legislation to speed up the completion of the motorway system.

Vlacic did not hide his disappointment over the rail operator Slovenske zeleznice management and warned that the company was not ready to face competition from abroad.

The minister said that Slovenia’s rail operator had a EUR 250m debt and said that the company would have to undergo changes in order to survive.

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