Gómez Sánchez, Juan and Vassallo Magro, José Manuel
Comparative analysis of road financing approaches in Europe and the United States.
"Journal of Infrastructure Systems", v. 20
Road infrastructure has a remarkable economic and social impact on society. This is why road financing has always drawn the attention of policymakers, especially when resources available for government spending become scarce. Nations exhibit differing approaches to dealing with road transportation financing. In the United States, the current system of road funding has been called into question because some regard it as insufficient to meet the amounts now required for road expenditures. By contrast, in most European countries, road charges are very high, but these revenues are not allocated for the funding of roads. This paper analyzes the balance between charging for the use of and expenditure on the road sector in the United States and compares the American policy with those of several European countries (Germany, United Kingdom, France, Spain, and Switzerland). To that end, a methodology is defined to calculate the annual amount of fee charges levied on light and heavy vehicles in the selected countries in order to compare those charges with annual road expenditures. The results show that road charges in America are noticeably lower than those paid in Europe. Additionally, the research concludes that in Europe, road-generated revenues exceed road expenditures in all the countries studied, so road charges actually subsidize other policies. By contrast, in the United States, the public sector subsidizes the road system in order to maintain the current level of expenditure.