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Ministry eyes tollways cut, investment boost

Zhao Lei
Updated: Jul 22,2015 8:51 AM

A pledge to further cut the number of tollways and to enable more private enterprises to invest in roads was delivered by the Ministry of Transport on July 21.

By the end of last year, the Chinese mainland had 162,600 km of highways with tolls, including 106,700 km of toll expressways. The total length of these expressways is the longest in the world.

Toll highways comprised 3.6 percent of the mainland’s 4.46 million km road network last year.

It is planned to reduce the percentage of toll roads to 3 percent, Wei Dong, deputy director of regulations and legislation at the ministry, said at a news conference on July 21.

This goal has been included in the draft amendments to the toll road management regulation, and the ministry is seeking public opinion on the issue.

“The ministry will strictly regulate the tolls charged on existing highways. In the future, only expressways will be allowed to charge them,” Wei said.

“In addition, we will encourage local governments to strengthen their cooperation with private companies on highway projects and welcome more private businesses to build roads.”

China began levying tolls on some highways in 1984 and invested part of the revenue on building new roads.

Local transportation authorities and highway businesses across the mainland received toll revenue of 391.6 billion yuan ($63 billion) last year.

Their spending on building, operating and maintaining highways reached 548.7 billion yuan, the ministry said in an annual report.

Zhang Zhuting, a professor specializing in traffic laws at the Management College of the Ministry of Transport, said one of the major changes to the regulation suggested by the draft amendments is that the government will issue bonds to raise funds for highway infrastructure projects instead of borrowing money from banks.