Bergþóra Þorkelsdóttir, Director of the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration, says she’s in favour of introducing tolls on roads throughout Iceland, RÚV reports. “…[I]t’s just my personal opinion,” she remarked in an interview on a morning radio program, “[but] I have a hard time seeing how a 350,000-person population in a country this big would ever be able to build up the [road] system without taking in any kind of funds, like road tolls or something of that nature, such that our guests are participating in the financing of it in some way.”
The idea to implement widespread road tolls was part of a bill introduced to parliament in December. Developed by the Parliamentary Environmental and Communications Committee in close consultation with Minister of Transportation Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, the planned tolls are meant to offset a loss of income from gas and diesel taxes, which are expected to fall rapidly over the next few years due to the government’s environmental action plan. The tolls would not be collected via booths; rather, cameras installed at specific toll points along the road would record license plate numbers and charge drivers electronically. The hope is that the camera tolls would not disrupt the flow of traffic.
“The additional stress that’s on the system comes from people who come here and want to use it,” said Bergþóra. “And I really think that these tourists who want to come here are prepared to pay some kind of fee for using the country’s infrastructure.”