FNB says “nei” to more toll roads

Five-year-old political party in Norway has as sole plank being against toll roads

Photo: FNB
Electronic toll collection zone, Stavanger toll ring.

M. Michael Brady
Asker, Norway

In December 2014, a new political party was founded in Stavanger in Rogaland County in southwest Norway. Named Folkeaksjonen nei til mer bompenger, FNB (Literally “Popular movement—no to more road tolls”), its sole plank is to abolish road tolls as a method of financing road building. FNB advocates that as part of the infrastructure, roads are a public asset, so financing them should be governmental responsibility.

The word bompenger translates literally to “boom money.” By coincidence, the Norwegian word bom and the English word boom both descend from the old Low German word bom, the root of the modern German word Baum (tree). Hence the direct modern Norwegian to English equivalence of veibom and “road boom,” both designating a toll road barrier, as used at staffed toll booths when tolling began in Norway. Today, the words “boom” and “barrier” are anachronisms in road tolling. Most road tolls are collected electronically in drive-through toll collection zones, and only one staffed toll zone is left in the country.

Road tolling is much used on ring roads in urban areas, which led to the relatively new term of “toll ring,” which in Norwegian is bomring. In Europe, the three oldest bomringer are in Norway, in Bergen (opened 1986), Oslo (opened 1990), and Trondheim (opened 1991). In addition to that historical precedence, another aspect of road tolls is prominent in the ongoing public debate about them. In Stavanger and Oslo, part of the income from road tolls goes to finance public transit. Whether tolls paid for using roads should contribute to reducing the need for those roads is a touchy issue.

The founding of FNB has contributed to making that issue more political than being just part of a party platform. That seems to be a step in the right direction toward its solution. To date, there’s been some success. FNB now has three members on the Stavanger City Council and member organizations across the country. Resolving the question of for whom the road tolls may well be in sight.

Further reading:

• Folkeaksjonen nei til mer bompenger (Popular movement—no to more road tolls), party website: www.neitilmerbompenger.no (in Norwegian).

• “One lonely tollbooth,” The Norwegian American, April 5, 2019: www.norwegianamerican.com/news/one-lonely-tollbooth.

This article originally appeared in the July 26, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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M. Michael Brady

M. Michael Brady was born, raised, and educated as a scientist in the United States. After relocating to the Oslo area, he turned to writing and translating. In Norway, he is now classified as a bilingual dual national.