The City of Stockholm in Sweden introduced an experimental congestion charging ring around the city centre in January 2006. This ran as a very successful pilot until July 2006. A majority of city residents voted in favour of it in a referendum in September 2006.
Background & Objectives
The scheme was introduced to reduce congestion and pollution in central Stockholm; the generation or revenue for alternative transport was only a minor consideration. Although originally an initiative of the city council it was taken over by national government since new national legislation was required before it could be introduced.
It was a cordon charging ring around the city centre with 18 charging points where radial routes cross the cordon. Charges applied Monday to Friday 0730 to 1830 and were around €1 at off-peak times and €2 at the peak. Each time a driver crossed the cordon they were charged, but to a maximum of €6 per day. Residents of an island that can gain road access to the rest of Sweden only by driving through central Stockholm were granted an exemption as long as they entered and exited the charged area within a 30 minute period (otherwise it was assumed that they were travelling to the city centre). Enforcement was by camera and automatic numberplate recognition; one-off payments could be made up to two days after crossing the cordon by phone, SMS or internet, by quoting one’s car registration number and paying the charge.>However, the majority of regular users obtained electronic tags which register travel through the cordon and for which they were billed monthly. The scheme cost around €350 million to implement.
Traffic levels in central Stockholm fell by about 20% after the scheme was implemented, queuing times by 30-50% depending on location, and emissions by 14%. A small number of additional bus services have been funded with the revenue generated.
From a situation in January 2006 where a majority of Stockholm County residents opposed the scheme, the referendum in September 2006 found a very small minority in favour. This was made up of a majority of city residents in favour, and a majority of those in the surrounding districts against. However, the referendum was optional for surrounding districts and only those with a more right-of-centre local council polled their citizens; the other (unpolled, left-of-centre) districts are likely to have been more supportive. It is unclear whether the new centre right national government will continue with the scheme.
Excellent and very full information, in English, is currently (September 2006) available by clicking on this link