Personal and goods transport entail a significant societal and economic cost in the form of environmental and human health impacts, accidents, congestion, as well as infrastructure wear and tear. These costs are, however, largely unaccounted for in the price that transport users pay today. In the absence of a dedicated fiscal and policy framework, transport users thus currently do not consider external costs as part of their travel decisions. Back in 2011 the European Commission acknowledged in its White Paper the importance of implementing ‘fair and efficient transport pricing’. Yet, while there is agreement over the general principles, the specific policy design is still to be determined. The French government’s recent backing down on a tax proposal that would have seen fuel prices increase by just under 3% shows how difficult it is to impose any economic pain in the name of tackling climate change. This calls for careful design and implementation of fiscal policy measures in order to ensure public acceptance, equity and social inclusion.
In recent years online platforms such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook, have become significant players in a number of markets, from retail to entertainment. Now, often aided by a favorable regulatory environment, platforms are encroaching on network industries, such as communications, transportation and energy. However, in addition to offering consumers considerable benefits, the platforms may be undermining the financial model which ensures that the network infrastructure they use, and that benefits society generally, receives adequate investment in the future. In their research paper Platformed! Network Industries and the New Digital Paradigm academics Juan J. Montero and Matthias Finger, consider some of the issues raised by the involvement of online platforms in networked industries.