Transforming mobilities? Comparing recent Scandinavian experiences with congestion tax policies
Karolina Isaksson, VTI
Anne Jensen, Aarhus universitet
Tim Richardson, Aalborg University
A policy turn towards sustainable mobility
Congestion charging and taxation often seen as a pragmatic policy measure to enact change of unsustainable mobility trends
Climate change and targets of 50-80% CO2 reduction require dramatic and fundamental shifts in transport behaviour:
A need for radical mobility transformations
Experience of congestion charging
There is a growing experience and knowledge of congestion charging systems (Singapore, London, Stockholm…)
Evaluations often focus on traffic system impacts and direct impacts for individuals, time costs/benefits, and economic costs.
Important also to take a broader social science approach, seeing congestion charging not only as a traffic intervention but potentially a key intervention to achieve radical and rapid transitions in mobility
Aims to examine congestion charging implementation within a Scandinavian ”sustainable urban development” context.
How has congestion charging been discussed (and implemented) in the two cases?
What are the main features of the congestion charging scheme in the two cities?
What sort of mobility and what long term mobility trends does congestion charging, in the two cases, support? Does it create incentives for any radical mobility transformations?
Stockholm and Copenhagen
Similar size (Stockholm 2 million, Copenhagen 1,7 million)
Growing city regions
Regional enlargement = many commuters
Economic growth – increased number of car owners and car drivers
An overall trend of increasing traffic and congestion
One difference between the two cities is the high share of bikes in Copenhagen: 30-35% of urban travels.
Initial findings: 1a) The policy process in Stockholm
Election Sep 2002: government negotiations at local and national levels led to the Stockholm congestion charging trial
A highly challenged decision, not the least among citizens and municipalities in the greater Stockholm area
A process characterized by political disagreements, time pressure, technical and legal challenges + a complex interplay between different governance levels
When the trial started, it was soon percieved as a success
( ~ 22% congestion reduction at the cordon)
Public resistance turned into public support (51,3% YES in the local referendum Sep 2006)
After the national election 2006: The new government decided to introduce cong tax on a regular basis from 1 Aug 2007
1b) The policy process in Copenhagen
Congestion charging has been put on the agenda by 16 municipalities in the Greater Cph Area (the ”Municipal Forum”), spearheaded by Cph
A planning unit has also been formed at Cph Municipality.
The Municipal Forum + the planning unit propesed a congestion charging scheme in 2008.
Nothing is however settled formally yet - congestion charging is still an open and contested issue
New legislation is required
An history of resistance from the national political level is perhaps shifting? 2009 traffic agreement = proposal currently on stand-by
2a) The Sthlm congestion tax: main features
The trial : To decrease traffic and congestion, enhance accessibility and improve the environment
The regular tax : improving the environment, the accessibility and to contribute financially to new road investments in the Stockholm region
Stockholm – main features (cont)
A cordon around the inner city (Essingeleden)
Motor vehicles passing one of the 18 charging stations (along the cordon) must pay 10-20 SEK, depending on time of the day.
Maximum fee: 60 SEK a day. Nights, weekends, holidays and days before holiday = free of charge.
According to the legislation, revenues may be used for public transportation and new road infrastructure
2b) The Cph congestion tax: main features
A cordon within the Municipality of Copenhagen
Rates: between 0 and 25 DKK, depending on the time of the day
Charged when wehicles pass the cordon
Nights = free of charge. Daytime at weekends + holidays = reduced price
Congestion tax + extra investments in public trp
Cph main features (cont)
Must ensure 15-20% reduction in car traffic within the toll ring
Must decrease the traffic work in the city region
Must not induce a rise in traffic on smaller roads
Must not hinder mobility
Must appear logical, fair and easy to understand
Must be accompanied by an extended public transport system of high quality and reliability
Congestion charging = central in relation to the ambitions for a CO2-neutral city by 2025
The overall rationale is still however to maintain and improve accessibility in the Greater Copenhagen area
Revenue will be used to finance ”key projects” that will ensure ”an effective and more environmentally friendly decrease in traffic in the Greater Cph Area”
3) What sort of mobility and mobility trends are supported?
Stockholm during the trial :
Congestion tax + extra investments in public transport = Decreasing traffic and congestion while increasing accessibility by public trp
Winners : inner city residents, public trp users, motorists who want (and can afford) to pay
Losers : residents in districts where conditions in terms of congestion and pollution got worse
An ambivalence about the place of the car in the city
What sort of mobility and mobility trends are supported? (cont)
Stockholm since the regular tax :
T he tax is clearly part of a large infrastructure plan including investments in road and railway infrastructure and part of the long-term multi nodal plan for Stockholm
Revenues earmarked for Bypass Stockholm
The tax is now deductible, fine for unpaid tax lower than during the trial
Worth to note is that while congestion is reduced, traffic is still increasing at large in the region – this seems to be seen as unavoidable
Current and future drivers who want and can afford to pay are a stronger group of winners than before
What sort of mobility and mobility trends are supported? (cont)
Clear aims for reduced congestion in the inner city as well as in the region
Clear aims to invest extra in public trp and biking
As in the Sthlm case, congestion reduction might support motorists who can afford to pay - and lead to smoother mobility for them…
… but an ambition for overall reduction + extra investments for other modes of transport is still an indication of a willingness to transform overall mobility trends
Still unclear however what will actually be decided and implemented in practice
One clear similarity is that the schemes in both cities combine cong charging with overall increasing car-based mobility trends…
Still an open question how upcoming new climate targets will influence the long-term transport planning in each city
According to the proposal, the Copenhagen scheme seems to have more of a critical edge than the current Stockholm scheme
The management of challenging issues is decisive for to what extent the scemes manage to confront car-based urban mobility
Are initially radical ambitions being watered down?