Congestion Charges

The beginning of the year saw the introduction in Stockholm of a controversial seven month experiment in congestion charges, tolls levied on almost every vehicle entering or leaving the Swedish capital.

There was much criticism…some objected to Stockholmers being able to vote in a referendum first afterwards. Others complained about a system where some had to pay afterwards, but it was unclear how much you owed.

During its first month, traffic in Stockholm dropped by 27 percent compared to the year before, way above expectations. And public transportation saw a 14 percent increase. But the critics who said the system would be unable to handle the new passengers turned out to be right…there were major problems with suburban commuter trains, and crowding in the subways.

A referendum on the issue will be held in connection with the September elections, but only for the residents of Stockholm. Residents of the surrounding municipalities will not be taking part. But many of them held  at the time of the 2003 election on adopting the European single currency, in which around 80 percent voted against the plan.