Having a tiered pricing structure for toll fees is something that certainly makes sense, yet isn’t ubiquitously implemented even in more developed countries. That said, steps are being taken to give road users a more equitable tollway experience, with Italy’s tollways set for a pricing restructuring.
Naturally, it would make sense if a heavy vehicle were charged more than, say, a smaller, more fuel-efficient naked bike. Not only is the heavy vehicle causing more wear and tear on the road, it’s also occupying more space and producing more emissions. This is why Autostrade per l'Italia, the largest operator of toll motorways in Italy, is working on redesigning the toll pricing structure. At present, motorcycles, cars, SUVs, and trucks are all charged the same amount for use of toll roads. Robert Tomasi, CEO of Autostrade per l'Italia wants to change this in order to streamline toll fees and make them more equitable to all road users.
The company seeks to take factors such as vehicle size, emissions, and the number of wheels in determining a tiered system for the pricing of toll motorways in the country. This could, in that case, mean that motorcycles will be charged substantially less, as they are the least polluting, most lightweight, and take up the least amount of space. There is, however, a challenge, as developments in the tollways infrastructure are needed in order to effectively implement the new pricing structure. "A network with the necessary infrastructure is needed to recognize the vehicle and apply the most appropriate tariff, whether it's a motorcycle or a truck,” explains Tomasi.
Apart from tiering the pricing structure of toll roads depending on the type of vehicle, the Transport Commission is also looking to roll out a cash-back principle which seeks to adjust tolls according to traffic. Autostrade per l'Italia is set to conduct an experiment starting March 15 to test out license plate-reading technology which automatically adjusts toll fees and informs the user immediately. It’s expected that around one million road users would benefit from the new principle.