The Toronto Star has an article about how Stockholm is dealing with traffic. They are going to vote on permanently implementing a congestion charge like London’s. They performed a pilot test for the charge and people hated the idea, then people saw the benefits of a congestion charge and opinion switched quickly.
The article does a bit of comparing and contrasting with Toronto, but concentrates on the good policies that Stockholm has adopted.
“”We have too many cars and too few roads,” says Soderholm. “We had to do something. Traffic was growing worse and people were getting more and more annoyed. For the Social Democrats, the environment was the primary concern. For the conservatives, it was to make Stockholm more attractive to business.”
The charges were in force from Jan. 3 to July 31. Though there were many exemptions, most drivers had to pay a fee ranging from $2 to $3.50, to a daily maximum of $10, every time they drove in and out of the designated zone. The fee applied Monday to Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
The cost of the trial, about $500 million, was paid for by the national government.
Needless to say, the majority of Stockholmers were adamantly opposed to the fee when the idea was first raised last year.
“Resistance was highest before the program started,” says Gunnar Soderholm, Stockholm’s deputy chief executive officer. “Basically, the Green Party forced the ruling Social Democrats to support the congestion zone. A lot of Social Democrats thought it was political suicide. The media had also been strongly opposed to it, but switched immediately. People could see with their own eyes what the benefits were — better traffic and environmental conditions.”