In December 2012, the government commissioned VTI to update information about the social marginal costs for using infrastructure for all modes of transport based on state-of-the-art knowledge in the research community. A final report was submitted in December 2013 and shortly after, the government extended VTIs assignment. The present report summarizes the results of the extended mission; the two reports are collectively referred to as SAMKOST 1 and SAMKOST 2, respectively. Both reports are based on a number of separate studies addressing externalities etc. from the respective modes of transport. Values refer to price level 2015.
Except for providing a platform for designing taxes and charges, the insights provided are useful for the analysis of other, non-economic means for enhancing efficiency in the transport sector.
Marginal costs relative to current charges in the same way as in SAMKOST 1, the taxation of fuel is substantially higher than the costs generated by passenger cars that use the road network. Costs include wear and tear, in particular from studded tires during the winter season, and (low) costs for noise and emissions; the new estimates indicate accident externalities to be close to zero. The single largest cost emanates from green-house emissions. Since there is no scientific consensus regarding the appropriate cost estimate to use, the current level of CO2 taxation is used as a proxy. This is inter alia a means for ascertaining a consistent approach for handling greenhouse gas costs across modes.
It is also concluded that heavy vehicles are charged less than the costs inflicted by using roads. Except for emissions of greenhouse gases, there is an accident externality generated by heavy vehicles, and in particular their wear and tear of infrastructure is substantial.
Users of railway infrastructure are charged track user charges which are below marginal costs for using tracks. The major cost component is the wear and tear of tracks. Sections of Sweden’s railways are, at least for parts of the day, probably used close to capacity. The fact that no generic approach for estimating capacity costs has been developed, the difference between costs and track user charges is probably larger than it is possible to quantify.
Estimates of the marginal costs emanating from merchant shipping includes piloting, icebreaking and accident risks, all stemming from the activities of the Swedish Maritime Administration (Sjöfartsverket). A new study of emissions from shipping is part of the background work within SAMKOST 2. Overall, current levels of fees charged by the Swedish Maritime Administration is well below the industry’s costs. One important reason is that bunker oil is exempt from taxation.
While in particular heavy road vehicles inflict substantial costs for wear and tear when using roads, there are no indications that landings and take-offs at airports have consequences for the need for maintenance and renewal of runways. The marginal costs of aviation are primarily related to emissions and noise. Europe’s aviation industry is now part of the emission trading system as a means for handling the emission of greenhouse gases. This is one reason why charges for using Swedish airports may be fairly close to marginal costs while costs for European and in particular inter-continental flights are substantially higher than the different types of charges levied.