Stockholm says yes to congestion taxes

After Rome, London, Edinburgh and Oslo, Stockholm could be the latest city to introduce road tolls around the city centre in view of limiting traffic. 

Residents from Stockholm’s 461 municipalities voted in a referendum, on 17 September 2006, about the controversial traffic-control system tested in the city centre over a period of seven months. 

A narrow majority (53%) voted in favour of the proposal – which would impose charges ranging from €1 to €2.10 each time car-drivers cross the city’s congestion zone on weekdays between 6:30 am and 6:29 pm – after studies showed that the trial had led not only to a decrease in congestion, but also to a reduction in traffic accidents and an improvement of the air quality (see EURACTIV 15 September 2006). 

Opponents to the taxes say they would hit low-and-middle income workers commuting from the suburbs and could hurt Sweden’s economy. But, cyclists, pedestrians, green groups and even drivers have welcomed the improvements brought by the system. 

Nevertheless, even though the referendum was positive, it remains uncertain whether the system – introduced by Sweden’s outgoing Social-Democrat government – will actually be implemented. Indeed, the formal decision rests with the central government – and a majority of Sweden’s newly elected centre-right coalition are strongly opposed to the system. 

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