Congestion charge gets green light

Congestion charge gets green light
Photo: Mikael Ullén
Sweden's parliament on Wednesday voted in favour of a permanent road toll for Stockholm in a bid to reduce congestion, with the scheme kicking off on August 1.

The system is aimed at reducing traffic and pollution in the city, and the revenue is to be used for road improvement in the Stockholm area.

The toll was broadly supported by deputies, who cast their votes several times on individual aspects of the bill rather than on one overall proposal.

The toll was operated on a trial basis last year and exceeded expectations of a 10 to 15 percent reduction of cars entering and leaving the capital, registering instead an average fall 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.

The Swedish capital will join other cities such as London, Rome and Singapore which have already introduced toll schemes.

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 ($1.50 and 3.00), depending on the time of day, with an upper limit of 60 kronor a day.

Overhead cameras will register the license plates of cars passing the toll stations.

Motorists can either have the amount automatically deducted from their bank account or pay a bill in the mail or by Internet.

The fees will be suspended every July – a popular holiday month for Swedes.