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For Whom the Road Tolls

By Mr Grumpy - Mon 17th Jun 2013

I think it was Sir Isaac Newton who famously concluded in his detailed study on the Spanish Toll-Road system, that two opposing forces meant that any private operator of the country’s highways were destined for ruin.

Apparently, one such force means that capitalism insisted that a profit was made at all costs, and as such this deters many road users from parting with their hard-earned cash in return for a few extra congestion-free miles.

Meanwhile, another force dictates that when the majority of motorists voted with their wheels - and that weekly takings plummet - the toll companies usually do the decent thing and put their prices up further still.

Therefore, fewer motorists are using the country’s toll roads, yet the creative geniuses and marketing gurus employed by the operators increasingly turn to the oldest trick in the book to attract motorists back to the high-speed network. They put the prices up further still.

My wallet had the shock of its short, miserable and pretty much empty life the other week when I took a trip up the A7 and almost needed a mortgage after making a journey of about 90km – about half of which was on the “free” bit which circumnavigates most cities anyway !

So last month’s news that the Ministry of Public Transport is considering taking over the 9 privately-owned Toll roads – in debt to the tune of 3.5 Billion Euros – didn’t come as too much of a surprise.

My only concern is that the Spanish Government don’t have a much better track-record when it comes to successfully turning a profit – what makes them think that they can do any better?

Recommended Reading

Spain’s toll roads to be bought by state

Spain in talks to rescue struggling toll roads

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