Infrastructure financing: Switzerland is considering mobility pricing 

Infrastructure financing: Switzerland is considering mobility pricing 

On 26 November, RouteSuisse (RoadsSwitzerland) hosted an on-line seminar on road infrastructure financing back-to-back with its annual General Assembly. The Seminar welcomed a presentation from the Director General of IRF on international trends and practices and one from the Director of the Swiss Federal Roads Office on the Swiss proposal for mobility pricing.

In Switzerland, the national road infrastructure is financed by fuel and vehicle import taxes, as well as a flat-rate annual fee of 40 Swiss francs (37 Euro). The railway infrastructure is financed entirely by road user charges (kilometre tax on heavy goods vehicles and tax on commuters using their cars to get to work). 

Switzerland faces a major challenge in terms of infrastructure for mobility. On the one hand, technological progress and the development of ever more climate-friendly vehicles are generating a decline in tax revenues, and this phenomenon will become more pronounced in the coming years.  On the other hand, Switzerland is experiencing stronger demographic and economic growth than its European neighbors. As a result, there is a greater demand for mobility and an increased need for mobility infrastructure.

As part of its annual meeting, the Swiss Road Federation (strasseschweiz/routesuisse) organised a seminar on the subject of infrastructure financing. For reasons related to COVID-19, this event was held online. Susanna Zammataro, Director General of the IRF, presented an overview of the different solutions that exist at the international level for mobility pricing, including the objectives and challenges of such systems. The Director of the Federal Roads Office, Jürg Röthlisberger presented the mobility pricing scheme currently being developed in Switzerland. This is a pricing scheme that covers all modes of transport (road and rail, private and public) and aims at financing infrastructure but also at influencing the demand for mobility by means of zone- and time-dependent tariffs. 

The presentations of the two guest speakers were followed by an animated question & answer session during which senators and national parliamentarians and other stakeholders in attendance were able to share their views and also seek for clarifications. The swiss proposal is in its early stages and will have to convince both the Parliament and then the citizens in a referendum since implementation of the system being shaped will require an amendment to the Constitution. 

The Mobility pricing proposal under discussion in Switzerland can be accessed here: 

Liesbeth CasierSenior Policy Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

Liesbeth Casier is a Senior Policy Advisor with IISD’s Economic Law and Policy Program. She works with the Public Procurement and Infrastructure Finance team on research and advisory services that involve innovation in public procurement. She also works on IISD’s Sustainable Asset Valuation. Liesbeth has advised governments in Bhutan, Canada, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, India, Morocco, Paraguay, Senegal, South Africa and the Netherlands.
Liesbeth also works extensively with the European Commission, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on policy frameworks and the business case for sustainable infrastructure. She represents IISD at the OECD Working Group on Leading Practitioners on Public Procurement.
Liesbeth previously worked with UN Environment and started her career as consultant in auditing and corporate finance with a family-owned consultancy business in Belgium. Liesbeth has an academic background in political science and law.