Another aspect of the Swedish elections: voters in Stockhold back an already-introduced measure that changes a fee to motorists entering the city. Shades of London, where congestion pricing has been in effect for a few years now.
In our traffic-clogged cities, it is an interesting question about if and how such congestion pricing might come into effect. The right has generally opposed such moves on the grounds of “tax grab”, while the left has opposed it due to regressive impacts on poor people who need to drive for employment.
In September 2005 when Stockholm officials approved the idea of a congestion charging fee, public opinion was firmly opposed to the idea. One year later, after a seven month trial period, the people of Stockholm have voted to keep the traffic-reduction system in place. Near-complete results for the Sunday referendum showed that 51.7 percent of Stockholm voters approved the traffic toll, while 45.6 percent voted against it.
Depending on the time of day, Stockholm drivers paid 10 kronor and 20 kronor, or about €1-€2 (US$1.30 – US$2.50) when they entered or exited the city’s center. The toll was in effect from 6:30 a.m. to 6:29 p.m. every weekday, with no fees on weekends, holidays or at night. Congestion charging reduced the number of vehicles driving into the center of Stockholm by nearly 25 percent. Noxious emissions declined 10 to 14 percent. And there were no negative impacts on Stockholm’s retail or economic growth.