ARENA is a national project that aims to build competence for a future introduction of a kilometre tax system for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in Sweden. The project was started when Swedish public authorities began considering the introduction of a kilometre tax for HGVs and as a means of harmonising the national development with the European framework.
The approach of ARENA is to take a broad view. Innovation potential, consequences and possibilities related to the introduction of a kilometre tax are just as important as the technical solutions as well as respecting that different stakeholders have different needs and requirements for the system.
The role of the ARENA project includes the following elements:
- Serving as the meeting point for all stakeholders in the industry - both nationally and internationally
- Developing and supporting knowledge within the project and serving as co-ordinator between other projects.
The project involved developing a concept for a kilometre tax system in Sweden with a functional approach, which does not prescribe any technical solutions. The concept in generic rather than specific, in the sense that it should be possible to implement the result in several ways. Hence, the system must be flexible to meet the dynamics of technical development. The time horizon for realisation is 3-6 years in the future, and we can expect considerable changes in technical preconditions over this period.
The concept, developed by ARENA, differs from existing systems in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Czech Republic. The ARENA concept allows more toll service providers, which is not accepted in the systems already in operation but is anticipated in the EU's work. ARENA believes that greater openness will reduce costs and increase flexibility. When it comes to checking for compliance with the regulations, ARENA has also forged its own path to reduce system costs.
ARENA has developed a functional concept, the ambition of which is to meet Swedish and European requirements to the degree that they are known. Work with the concept is far from complete. More work is required both on the national and the European level.
The concept is structured to allow differentiation of the tax level, which offers the necessary flexibility to design a politically acceptable kilometre tax system.
The structure of the ARENA concept differs from systems currently in operation primarily in regard to the control system, with ARENA taking inspiration from the control principles used in other domains as for income tax and customs. Furthermore, ARENA proposes a business model for the kilometre tax where most activities are carried out by private stakeholders at commercial terms and where the government collects tax revenue and serves a supervisory role. This basis is a rational response to the demand for a cost-effective system and provides a solution that works in harmony with the rest of Europe.
A demonstration of kilometre tax and associated applications has been created and is presented at the ITS World Congress in Stockholm in September 2009 (using two electric cars with on-board equipment). ARENA 2.0 also plans to establish a research environment in ITS and E-Transactions based on the knowledge gained during the course of the project.
There are legal and organisational aspects that still require investigation. The concept does not describe any alternative solutions, but during the course of the project some of the alternatives that have been brought up in the debate in recent years have been analysed in a comparative study (ARENA REPORT 2008:8 "A Criteria-based Approach to Evaluating Road User Charging Systems").
The work in the ARENA project continues in ARENA 2.0, where the functional concept for kilometre tax will be further developed in collaboration with researcher, government authorities and industries - both nationally and internationally.