Reintroduction of Congestion Charges

In a bid to reduce congestion, the Swedish government said on Thursday it is presenting a bill to parliament to reintroduce congestion charges in Stockholm, starting in August.

The issue is to be debated in parliament on June 14. The bill is broadly supported and is almost certain to be passed.

Revenue from the scheme would be used for road improvement in the Stockholm area.

The tolls were introduced on a trial basis last year and exceeded expectations for a 10 to 15 percent reduction in traffic, with diminuation of between 20 and 25 percent. Stockholm residents voted to adopt the congestion charge in a referendum held in September 2006 in conjunction with the country’s legislative elections.

If adopted, the Swedish capital would join other cities such as London, Rome and Singapore which have already introduced toll schemes.

Under the proposal all vehicles except buses and foreign-registered cars that enter or exit central Stockholm on weekdays during the peak hours of 6:30 AM to 6:29 PM will be required to pay a fee. Electric cars and hybrid vehicles will be exempt from the toll until 2012.

Motorists will pay between 10 and 20 kronor (US $1.50 and 3.00), depending on the time of day, with an upper limit of around 8.75 US dollars a day. Overhead cameras will register the license plates of cars passing the toll stations.

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