The test period will conclude at the end of July 2006, just six weeks before a public referendum, to be held at the same time as the parliamentary election, on whether to make the road tax permanent.
The aim of the scheme, according to the government, is to reduce traffic by 10 to 15 percent on the most overloaded roads, increase the average speed, and reduce emissions of health-endangering pollutants and carbon dioxide.
The trials alone will cost 3.8 billion kronor and will affect over half a million motorists a day. But how will they affect you?
Who has to pay?
All owners of Swedish-registered vehicles will have to pay a congestion charge if they drive into our out of the centre of Stockholm on a weekday between 6.30am and 6.29pm.
The weekday charges are on a sliding scale:
Outside of these times there is no charge and the maximum charge per day, per vehicle, is 60 kronor.
How do you pay?
At all the main entry points to the city, payment stations have been set up containing an impressive array of infrared cameras and lasers. These record your car’s registration number and the amount due, which must be paid within five days.
You can pay online, or at Pressbyrån or 7-Eleven stores.
Alternatively, you can equip yourself with a ‘transponder’ which takes care of the payments for you. A nifty little white box, it is activated by a signal at the payment station and charges your bank account directly. You can order a transponder, for free, here. (In Swedish)
Where are the payment stations?
The task of checking cars is made considerably easier by the fact that the city is built on islands. There are eighteen payment stations at the various entry points to the city centre:
- Stora Essingen
- Lilla Essingen
- Trafikplats Fredhäll/Drottningholmsvägen
- Trafikplats Lindhagensgatan
- Trafikplats Karlberg/Tomtebodavägen
- Norra Hamnvägen
Who is exempt from the charges?
You won’t have to pay the congestion charge if you happen to drive one of the following types of vehicle:
- Emergency vehicles
- Buses which weigh over 14 tonnes
- Diplomatic cars
- Vehicles registered abroad
- Mobility service cars which weigh under 14 tonnes, following an application to the Tax Agency
- Military vehicles
- Cars with disabled badges, following an application to the Tax Agency
- Registered environmentally-friendly cars powered (fully or partially) by electricity, alcohol or gas other than gasol
If you don’t drive one of those, and you don’t want to pay, you’ll have to walk. Or take public transport.
So what’s happening with public transport?
A not insignificant 197 new buses on 16 new routes have been brought into service to cope with the anticipated demand for public transport.
There will also be more park-and-ride facilities and the Swedish Roads Agency promises to make existing facilities “more attractive”.
Is there a charge for passing through on the motorway?
Thousands of motorists every day drive through the congestion charge area on Essingeleden, the much-loved Stockholm ringroad section of the E4 and E20 motorways. They will not be charged for the pleasure.