This paper seeks to quantify the cost of the most important inefficiencies in Belgian transport taxation. To this end we calculate the welfare gain of an ideal, optimal tax/subsidy system across the transport market as a whole (i.e. considering private road traffic in conjunction with public transport). We found the total welfare gain to be 2.3 billion euros, of which 1.3 billion are due to time gains of remaining road users. Our measure lies significantly above those found in the literature, since we consider the distortion cause by a wide range of subsidies.
In network industries the market reform that is being pursued by national and supranational authorities should lead to an improvement of efficiency, which spills over into a beneficial macroeconomic impact. This paper presents two alternative simulations of the potential impact in Belgium. These simulations give very different outcomes, but are still complementary. A macroeconometric approach seems to be more realistic in the short and mid term because it has been built up from observed behavioural relationships. A general-equilibrium approach gives rise to drawing some lessons about the conditions that make the impact more pronounced in the long term.