Tuesday, May 22, 2012


There’s a campaign that’s been going on lately against paying tolls on highways in Catalunya. The idea is that since the concessions are privately owned, the owners can’t issue traffic citations against people who won’t pay, and so if you refuse to pay, eventually they need to let you through. There’s even some attempt to say that it’s not really illegal, since the red light for paying the toll isn’t a legal traffic signal.

There are several levels of stupidity here: the first is that if you decide to use the service of a private company (say a restaurant for example) and leave without paying, it’s called theft, and is obviously illegal.

The second is that in most cases the people paying the toll are financing the original construction costs plus the maintenance. The Catalan nationalists complain that other parts of Spain don’t have toll roads and that this is somehow unfair. Even if you accept the argument that Catalunya is being taxed unfairly in general, would the best use of extra money be making the tolls free? (vs spending it on education or health care for example). After all, someone still needs to pay for the roads. Having the people using the highway pay for it seems quite fair to me.

The third part is that this campaign will probably benefit infrastructure companies, since they will be able to buy into all the upcoming privatizations at a cheaper price. If I were an infrastructure company and somewhat evil, this campaign would be a great negotiating chip to get a better price for some of the many concessions that are going to go on the market.


trebots said...

There's a close relationship between CiU and Abertis, so some people are wondering whether Solidaritat Catalana per la Independència, the promotors of all this, have their own construction partner waiting in the wings.

One of the funny things about SI's pro-motorist strategy is that a couple of years ago they swallowed up one of the local green parties.

Anonymous said...

In the course of three nights, I went through the Barcelona-Sant Cugat peaje and paid with my card, and the car right behind slid out of the toll gate at the same time, tailing me to within 20cm of course. Not funny.