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The Highway 6 toll for subscribers is about 550% higher than equivalent U.S. prices. The result is under-use of the road compared with projections, a study conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center concludes. The study will be presented to the Economic Affairs Committee.

The committee will discuss tolls on Highway 6 and operation of section 18 (between Iron and Yokne'am).

Toll fees were raised by 18 percent on April 1, 2007, from NIS 2.56 to 3.03 (not including V.A.T.). The report estimates that the price increase of last month will result in an added revenue of NIS 50 million in 2007. According to the report, the road is used by an average of 82,000 vehicles daily on week days.

The road is under-used, the report says, resulting in economic inefficiency and heavy traffic on other roads.

The report points to two main reasons for under-use of the road: excessively high toll fees causing low usage, and poor access from west-east connection roads.

The road bypasses heavily populated areas of central Israel, so that without quick, available access from population centers, use of the road is less worthwhile.

According to an economic opinion prepared for the parties, profits from toll collection during 2004 and 2005 totaled NIS 23 million.

In addition, the cost of collection as presented by Derech Eretz is NIS 18 million more than originally estimated.

Chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee Moshe Kahlon (Likud) announced in response that the committee would find it difficult to approve operation of section 18 as a toll road until a method could be found to reimburse the public for illegally charged fees.

The toll fees will be returned either through reduced toll fees or direct reimbursement.