Traffic jams in Brussels cause a daily average loss of 45 minutes per driver.
According to the OECD, this corresponds to an economic loss between 1% and 2% of Belgium’s GNP. Converted to Brussels alone, this means a loss of €850 million to €1.7 billion a year!
The daily traffic jams also harm the environment and the overall health of citizens, due to the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. Poor air quality is responsible for around 1.000 premature deaths every year in the Belgian Capital City.
What’s more is that all Brussels residents currently pay for road maintenance, while 53% of households (especially the most vulnerable) do not even have a car!
What’s the “Smart Move” of Brussels?
Brussels is a city suffering from air pollution, traffic jams, road accidents and a lack of space (70% of public space goes to cars).
Smart Move is a smart kilometre charge based on the principle of ‘the user/polluter pays’ that will replace the current annual road tax and the car registration tax, except for the largest cars (+15 ‘fiscal horsepower’) who will still pay a registration. Different rates will be applied to peak and off-peak hours to anyone who drives a motorbike, car or van (including so-called salary cars).
The charge does not apply at night, during weekends or on public holidays. In this way, it is a smart kilometre charge: the charge will be higher during times with more traffic jams or when there are sufficient alternatives.
In addition, any income from Smart Move will be fully reinvested in mobility measures and alternatives.
Smart Move? More like a Good Move, too!
The introduction of Smart Move is part of Brussels’ SUMP award-winning sustainable urban mobility plan Good Move.
In particular, the scope of Smart Move is the territory of the Brussels Capital Region. The R0 ring road around Brussels is exempt, as are the access roads to the ‘park & ride’ facilities on the edge of Brussels (the same area applies to the Brussel Low Emission Zone).
However, Brussels is warmly inviting the Flanders and Wallonia Regions to implement Smart Move, too.
But how does it work?
Roads users will be able to choose between two systems to comply with this charge.
The primary system consists of two parts: a basic charge and a kilometre charge. The basic charge is a lump sum for the day on which the user drives in Brussels. This amount varies according to peak and off-peak hours and the car’s ‘fiscal horsepower’. This variation ensures a progressiveness according to the social and environmental impact of the car. In addition to the basic charge, the user then pays an amount per kilometre driven. This amount also varies according to peak and off-peak hours.
The Brussels government offers a smartphone application to register and pay the smart kilometre charge. In accordance with EU regulations, other (private) operators will also be able to offer alternative apps and on-board units.
The secondary system is a day pass that you will be able to buy online or in shops. The driver must purchase a pass before the day he or she drives in Brussels. The day pass is a lump sum which also varies according to the car’s ‘fiscal horsepower’.
Enforcement of the charge ensured via the existing ANPR camera network (which will be further strengthened) and on-street teams.
An extensive round of consultations with all stakeholders will start now and continue during throughout the upcoming months.
The Brussels Regional Government will work towards a broadly-supported framework which it will present to the Brussels Regional Parliament at the beginning of 2021. The rest of 2021 will then be devoted to development and test phases. The Brussels Government aims to introduce Smart Move during the first semester of 2022.