According to a decree published in Sunday's Journal Officiel newspaper, truck and intercity bus fares will be regulated depending on the level of pollution. However, these fares will only apply after current highway toll concessions end, which is expected to be mostly in the 2030s. The decree transposes a mandatory European directive adopted in 2022 that is designed to incentivize the use of less polluting vehicles. The transposition must be completed by March 2024. The measure will apply to freight and passenger vehicles with a maximum authorized weight of more than 3.5 tons.
The toll will be "adjusted according to the vehicle's carbon dioxide emission class. The extent of this adjustment is determined by the specifications attached to the concession contract," reads the decree published in the Journal officiel.
The ministerial decree will establish the emission classes and the modulation scale for each of them. The fees will also be increased by "a charge for external costs related to air pollution from road traffic." The regulation will specify control values depending on the environmental characteristics of the vehicle, its technical characteristics and the nature of the road used, whether commuter or intercity. In practice, the measure does not apply to current concession contracts. It "applies only to future highway construction contracts," states the Ministry of Transport.
Transportation: the largest source of CO2 emissions
The main current concessions, covering more than 90% of the highways under concession, expire between 2031 and 2036. Transport is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe, with heavy goods vehicles (including buses and coaches) accounting for about a quarter of the total, according to official data.
Overall, the introduction of differentiated fares for freight and intercity buses is a positive step that will help reduce pollution and improve urban air quality.