This paper outlines the policy on the imposition of road tolls in the City of Cape Town. The policy is based on a thorough investigation in which the benefits of raising revenue for road construction and maintenance by means of road tolls are weighed against the disadvantages. This means of raising the necessary revenue is contrasted with the alternative funding sources available. The legal context is explored and commented upon as well as the background regarding the present underfunding of the transport system despite the substantial revenue collected by provincial and national spheres of government from vehicle license fees and the levy on fuel respectively.
The principles of road pricing and user charging are outlined. Road tolling can be applied for two distinctly different purposes. Firstly, it can be used as a charge to manage the demand for use of a particular road link or on a number of road links leading to concentrations of employment, and then constitutes a “user charge”. Secondly, it can be imposed to finance the construction and maintenance of a particular road link. The two unsolicited toll road bids impacting on Cape Town, which are presently being developed by private sector consortia for consideration by the South African National Roads Agency Limited, belong in the second category.
The paper concludes that, in Cape Town, the disadvantages of the imposition of road tolls for the purpose of raising early finance for the construction, operation and maintenance of specific routes outweigh the benefits. It is proposed that route specific tolling should preferably be used exclusively for travel demand management and the creation of recreational/tourist attractions within the City. If sufficient funding cannot be raised from vehicle licence fees, levies on vehicle fuel and other user charges to provide a satisfactory level of service and safety on the transport system, then road pricing primarily to ration road space should be introduced in the form of a “shadow toll” collected at service stations located within the City. That will be far more cost efficient and more equitable than route specific tolling and would result in fewer adverse effects.