In Germany, vehicle-miles traveled using cleaner trucks (Euro 4 and 5) rose 60 percent from 2 percent in 2005 to over 62 percent in 2009 because of the nationwide heavy-goods-vehicle tolling program.

Germany's experience with nationwide GPS based truck tolling.


Summary Information

To combat congestion or generate new revenue, road pricing projects have been implemented in several countries outside the United States, including Germany, Singapore, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. A scan team from the United States traveled to Europe and Asia to meet with transportation officials involved in implementation of road pricing programs and to learn firsthand about their approaches and practices. The scan tour was sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NHCRP). The 10 members of the multidisciplinary scan team included transportation professionals from four State departments of transportation (DOT), one regional transportation agency, FHWA, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and private industry. Based on observations made by the scan team, key project elements and benefits realized in the form of increased mobility and reduced emissions are reported below.


Germany, being at the crossroads of Europe, has significant east-west and north-south freight movement via trucks. German motor fuel taxes did not prove to be an effective means of revenue generation to pay for highway infrastructure maintenance resulting from the volumes of heavy trucks moving across Germany. As a consequence, the Germans sought a new source of revenue through distance-based charging on the autobahns, the equivalent of the U.S. interstate highways. The German heavy goods vehicle (HGV) tolling program began commercial operations in January 2005. It is the world’s first satellite-based, countrywide electronic tolling system and applies only to trucks weighing more than 12 tons on the autobahns and a small number of other national highways. All trucks, irrespective of national registry, are tolled based on the number of axles, vehicle emissions rating, and distance traveled.

The system covers about 7,700 road miles (12,392 kilometers), including 30-plus miles (48 kilometers) of local roads and more than 2,460 access points. Truckers have two payment methods:
  • An automated system using a combination of satellite-based (GPS) tracking via onboard units (OBU), mobile communications (GSM), and dedicated short-range communications (DSRC) for enforcement interrogation.
  • A manual booking system, which allows trucks without OBUs to book their travel via the Internet or through roadside terminal kiosks available to arrange for payments.
Both payment methods are enforced through an automated number plate recognition (ANPR) system housed at 300 control point gantries, supplemented by 280 mobile enforcement vehicles.


While the operating costs are considerable, Germany has demonstrated that a GPS- and distance-based heavy goods vehicle (HGV) tolling program can be successfully implemented at a national level to accomplish the following functions:

  • Shift to a user-pays approach.
  • Improve system efficiency by creating incentives to reduce empty truck trips.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of cleaner trucks and truck technology.
  • Generate substantial new funding for infrastructure.
In part because of the imposition of higher tolls on higher polluting trucks, a dramatic growth in cleaner trucks was observed. Benefits reported are:
  • Based on the European Union’s five-step emission classification scale (with Euro 5 being the cleanest vehicles and Euro 1 the dirtiest), the number of vehicle-miles using cleaner trucks (Euro 4 and 5) rose 60 percent, from 2 percent in 2005 to over 62 percent in 2009.
  • Conversely, the vehicle-miles driven by dirtier trucks (Euro 1, 2, and 3) declined from 98 percent to 38 percent. Empty trucks on the road declined by 7 percent.

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Reducing Congestion and Funding Transportation Using Road Pricing In Europe and Singapore

Author: Robert Arnold, Vance C. Smith, John Q. Doan, Rodney N. Barry, Jayme L. Blakesley, Patrick T. DeCorla-Souza, Mark F. Muriello, Gummada N. Murthy, Patty K. Rubstello, Nick A. Thompson

Published By: Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT

Source Date: 12/01/2010



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Benefits From This Source

After implementation of the congestion charge in London, the number of vehicles entering the charging zone decreased by 25 percent, travel speeds increased by 30 percent, trip times decreased by 14 percent, and traffic delays plummeted by 25 percent.

In Germany, vehicle-miles traveled using cleaner trucks (Euro 4 and 5) rose 60 percent from 2 percent in 2005 to over 62 percent in 2009 because of the nationwide heavy-goods-vehicle tolling program.

In Singapore, the Electronic Road Pricing program has enabled maintaining target speeds of 45 to 65 kilometers per hour on expressways and 20 to 30 kilometers per hour on arterials.

The Stockholm congestion tax project reduced traffic congestion by 20 percent and vehicle emissions by 10 to 14 percent in the Central Business District.

Lessons From This Source

Be prepared to face the opportunities and challenges posed by political timetables, project deadlines, as well as pricing-equity issues for road pricing procurement and implementation.

Beware that schedule and costs of road pricing projects are affected by various factors including legislative outcomes, clarity and specificity of scope, and contracting methods.

Consider advantages of open-source designs and beware of legal challenges in road pricing systems procurement.

Consider stakeholder outreach and education, transport modes that offer an alternative to driving, performance measurement, and area geography with high importance in the planning phase for road pricing programs.

Create performance standards for operational effectiveness of a pricing program, define business rules for back-office operations, and refine operations practices based on needs.

Define clear goals and pay attention to key institutional and technical factors for successful implementation of road pricing programs.

Develop a statutory and legal framework for as a foundational step for levying road pricing fees and utilizing revenues.

Develop public outreach programs based on the cultural and political context of the project location and provide clear, salient, and timely messages about the purpose and benefits of congestion pricing.

Enforce congestion toll collection and create integration linkages between pricing system and motor vehicle registries to process violations.

For successful implementation of a road pricing program, strive for simplicity in policy goals and strong championing of the program by the executive and legislative leaders.

Understand that while the viability of pricing programs is impacted by political actions, pricing signal is a potential tool for developing a sustainable transportation system.

Use business and functional requirements to guide technology selection for a road pricing program and understand that the technology selected initially evolves over time.

Benefit ID: 2011-00759