During 2015 and 2016, TAN members Ian Catling and Andy Graham led a team of road user charging professionals who, as part of the larger World Bank team, advised the Government of Bulgaria on the development of a national tolling framework.

The team reviewed the existing ‘vignette’ system of charging for road use, analysed the detailed requirements of the Bulgarian Roads Infrastructure Agency, which operates and manages the national road network, and of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, responsible for national roads policy, and developed a recommended model as the framework for the future.

The recommended model was for a transition for light vehicles from the existing paper-based vignettes to an ‘electronic vignette’ system, easier to use and more cost effective, and for heavy vehicles to be charged using a satellite-based electronic system similar to those in use in Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Russia and Belgium.

The study included detailed analyses of tariff structures and rates, and included advice to the Government on the procurement processes in order most cost-effectively to implement and then operate the new tolling systems.

After the end of the study in 2016, the Government conducted a competitive procurement process and in January 2018 appointed a contractor to implement the system.  It also asked the World Bank to monitor and advise on the implementation process, and to this end Ian Catling and Andy Graham re-established the Bank’s expert team to oversee and review the implementation, testing, trialling and commissioning process prior to operation of the new national road charging systems.

Diagram – the vision for national tolling in Bulgaria.