Congestion Pricing Returns to Stockholm

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Sweden re-launched its congestion pricing system today following a 6-month trial and voter referendum last September, in which Stockholm residents approved the traffic control measure by a margin of 52 to 45. The referendum was a definitive victory for a system that reduced Stockholm's traffic congestion by as much as 50 percent and decreased noxious air pollution by 14 percent (you can see some stats here). Notably, prior to the 6-month trial run, polls showed that as many as 80 percent of Stockholm residents were against the idea congestion pricing.

The Local reports on the newly relaunched pricing system:

There will be a number of key differences between the new arrangements and those during last year's trial. One change is that the transponders - electronic devices used in the trial to make it possible to take the charge directly out of drivers' accounts - will not be used. Instead, cameras will read cars' plates, and those vehicles whose drivers are registered will have the money debited directly from their accounts.

Other drivers, as before, will have to pay the charge within 14 days of driving in the zone. This can be done online, at Pressbyrån or 7-Eleven stores or in banks.

Another key difference is that taxis will no longer be exempted from paying the charge. A number of taxi operators have already said they plan to increase charges as a result. The charge will be tax-deductable for some companies and commuters.

Mike Castleman, a New Yorker currently in Stockholm offers some congestion pricing photographs on Flickr. Below is a photo of the pricing menu, which charges different fees based on time-of-day. "Kr" stands for Kronor, the Swedish currency.