3.5 tonne vehicles to be driven under Platon ETC System

The Ministry of Transport has started checking the feasibility of the system expansion, but the experts believe that it is about the extension to all vehicles in immediate prospects

3.5 tonne vehicles to be driven under Platon ETC System Photo: rg.ru

For the moment, the Ministry of Transport is only studying the economics of expanding of Platon Electronic Toll Collection system to other categories of vehicles. The agency has ordered a study of the problem from the Higher School of Economics. It is unknown why the officials have become concerned about the problem of inclusion of trucks from 3,5 to 12 tonnes in the system. The hauliers claim that the vehicles of this category travel only short distances and most often not on the federal roads. However, an HSE expert is sure that it is a fundamentally new system of taxation of the motorists.

The Ministry of Transport is preparing in secrecy

The Ministry of Transport of Russia has started preparations for the expansion of the Platon ETC system. Its effect can be extended to the travels on federal highways of trucks with weight from 3,5 to 12 tonnes. This became known to Vedomosti newspaper from own sources in the government.

The Transport Ministry hastened to refute this information, stating that it is not going to introduce the toll for vehicles from 3.5 tonnes. However, on zakupki.gov.ru you can find the contract on 'scientific feasibility of introduction on the territory of Russia of the ETC system for travels on highways with the permissible maximum weight from 3,5 to 12 tonnes including with the aim of a phased transition to the principle of 'a user pays'. The performer is the Higher School of Economics (HSE) (price — 10,8 million rbl., the end of work — November 15, 2016).

Mikhail Blinkin, the director of the Institute of Transport Economy and Transport Policies of the Higher School of Economics, confirmed to Realnoe Vremya the execution of the contract: 'By the end of the year, we will finish this research work. If it has any relevance to any practical consequences — it does not matter to me but it does to the deputies, the officials. Our job is to carry out some calculations, comparisons with international experience and so forth.'

Mikhail Blinkin: 'By the end of the year we will finish this research work. If it has any relevance to any practical consequences — it does not matter to me, it does to the deputies, the officials.' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

'It'll be a paltry sum'

The vehicles from 3,5 to 12 tonnes are, roughly speaking, an intermediate category, which is not so often used by the hauliers.

'This category includes all that is bigger than Gazelle,' says Sergey Sotnikov, the director of TK Reverse.

Alexander Lindval, the representative of the Association of International Road Carriers in Kazan (ASMAP), also believes that their share is small and it will impossible to increase the fees seriously: 'Small cars in 99% of the time perform delivery functions. They do not travel on the federal highways. <…> Well, if they drive on the federal highway 100 kilometres — it'll be a paltry sum. But if they are given a free device, and post-payment is be allowed, if a driver is law-abiding, then a sum will be very small.'

The hauliers themselves are confident that soon they will reach the Gazelles.

Alexander Lindwall: 'The main purpose of this system is the collection and analysis of the information about how they drive, where and how many cars, on what roads in order to any point of time it was possible to establish the location of any car — where he has traveled for the last year or two.' Photo: temptrans.ru

The new form of taxation of the motorists

However, apparently, the main task of the extension of Platon — is not a revenue increase.

'In general, Platon, according to the creators, must cover 100% of vehicles (ideally — down to the passenger cars),' says Alexander Lindval. 'The main purpose of this system is the collection and analysis of the information about how they drive, where and how many cars, on what roads in order to any point of time it was possible to establish the location of any car — where he has travelled for the last year or two. And the fact that the system collects for roads, — the sum is insignificant. No matter how they increase the rate, the amount will be still miserable compared to the cost of road construction in Russia. The aim of the system — not to collect money for roads, but to obtain the statistics of road transport work in the Russian Federation. At the drivers expense.'

Mikhail Blinkin even says that it is not even about the statistics but the transition to a fundamentally new form of taxation of the motorists. According to him, the developed countries in the next three-five years will rebuild the system.

'In the last 100 years, this tax was taxes included in petrol we bought (according to the domestic legislation — the excise duties),' says the representative of the HSE. 'This mechanism all over the world now is changing to another. The electronics will measure out how many kilometres I have travelled and will impose a payment for the electricity, — the whole world is transferring to that. We have this scheme, partly, for the 12-tonne vehicles. And we see: whether it is possible to expand to the other vehicles. In a few years, everyone will pay that way — through electronic payments.'

According to Lindval, no more than 60% of cars that regularly travel on the federal highways pay money. Photo: trucksale.ru

Only 60% of carriers pay the toll

However, now even the current system is not working properly.

'Recently we have carried out the event on the basis of the CCI, met with a representative of Platon,' says Alexander Lindval of ASMAP. 'They were talking about its success, the hauliers have expressed their wishes. The main wish — not to raise rates, as the Ministry of Transport planned for the next year, and to ensure that this system covered at least the range of cars they have designated at 100% and everyone paid. The thing is that currently some carriers do not pay fines and they don't come. 100% coverage of the 12-tonne trucks still has not been achieved.'

According to our estimates, no more than 60% of cars that regularly travel on the federal highways pay money.

This state of affairs revives the debate about its practicability. The hauliers just say that if the system still does not work — it is incapacitated.

'The whole point of this project is originally based on an incorrect premise. The structure works on itself, and the question naturally arises: 'Why do we need it?'. For the year, it collected 16 billion rubles, out of which 11 billion were spent on the same structure itself. It works for itself. These additional functions are made up in order to say: 'we exist for the reason and even bring some benefit'.

By Lina Sarimova, Dmitry Semyagin