Government raise tolls for hauliers on Fridays to cut-down on pre-weekend traffic

The Czech government on Monday passed a new directive raising tolls for trucks by half of the current rate on Friday afternoons, in an attempt to curb heavy traffic on highways into the weekend. The move is not as tough as a previous year-long Friday ban sought by the former government, but one that is acceptable to truckers themselves.

Gustav Slamečka
The previous government led by former prime minister Mirek Topolánek never got a chance to implement a year-round Friday ban on transport trucks on Czech highways; now the interim government of Jan Fischer has settled on a compromise. Instead of stopping transport by 15 to 21 tonne trucks on Friday outright, the directive now approved aims to curb highway congestion by a different means: raising tolls on trucks by half on Fridays between three and nine pm. The move, Transport Minister Gustav Slamečka confirmed, will go into effect on February 1:

“We expect that the measure will reduce transport at the peak hours by roughly 30 percent. Those are our expectations, but after six months we will re-assess the situation and if the measure proves ineffective or less effective than previous, there are further options we can take.”

While not thrilled about the higher rate, hauliers are satisfied to have avoided an outright Friday ban, which they long opposed in tense negotiations with the former government. But others, it turns out, are far from excited, namely those in bus transport, as buses too will be affected by the new measure. The head of the bus company ČSAD Semily, Tomáš Roubíček, for example told Czech Radio the move left bus transport at a disadvantage, since unlike truckers, they could hardly re-schedule existing routes to avoid the higher toll:

Photo: Radio Prague International
“Bus transport is not the same as trucks transporting goods. Busses on existing lines have to travel according to existing timetables and will have little choice. The new measure will only complicate the situation.”

As for overall toll revenues, those dropped last year by some 600 million crowns compared to 2008 for a total of 5.54 billion crowns collected in 2009. The reason is simple: 2009 saw significant cut-backs in highway transport due to the economic crisis.