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Road pricing in Europe

(Source Wikipedia)

Facing rising levels of traffic congestion, European governments are giving serious consideration to nationwide road pricing schemes. Some of these could exploit the new Galileo satellite positioning system, although it is possible to arrange road pricing using various different technologies. A satellite based system would entail vehicles containing a satellite tracking device which would determine which roads were being driven along, for how far and at what time of day. This information would then be sent to a central computer system, and the appropriate charges levied against the driver.

Germany

Schemes for charging trucks (lorries) in Germany (by the company Toll Collect) and Austria are already underway. The German scheme began on January 1, 2005, trucks pay between €0.09 and €0.14 per kilometer depending on their emission levels and number of axles. The expensive scheme, combining satellite technology with other technologies, suffered numerous delays before implementation, whilst a scheme using much simpler technology in Austria was up and running in 2004. In the UK, the Labour government announced in July 2005 that the proposed UK truck road user charging scheme would not go ahead.

Italy

A traffic charge program in Milan, called "Ecopass", began on a trial basis on January 2, 2008. It exempts vehicles compliant with the Euro3 and Euro4 emission standards or higher, as well as several alternative fuel vehicles. Residents within the restricted zone, called ZTL (Italian: Zone a Traffico Limitato), may purchase a discounted annual pass. Although the program is operationally similar to existing congestion pricing schemes, its main objective is to reduce air pollution from vehicle emissions rather than relieve traffic congestion.[3][4][5] The program was extended until December 31, 2009, and a public consultation will be conducted to decide if the charge should become permanent.[6]

Malta

A fully automated system called a Controlled Vehicular Access (CVA) system has been launched in Malta's capital city of Valletta since May 1, 2007.[7]When compared to other countries that make use of congestion charging models, the Maltese system makes use of a wider array of innovations including variable payments according to the duration of stay, flexible exemption rules, including exemptions for residents within the charging zone, and monthly or quarterly billing options for vehicle owners. Pre-payment facilities, including direct debit arrangements and purposely designed vouchers, are also available. The billing system was designed in Malta and has been described as a state of the art 'next generation congestion charge billing solution'. The Valletta Congestion Charge, which is also known as Valletta CVA, was recently nominated for the Best European Transport Strategy Award. Public voting is still underway.

Norway

One of the earliest schemes was introduced in Bergen in Norway in 1986.[8] Only traffic entering the town is charged and only during weekdays from 6:00 a.m. through 10:00 p.m. Public service vehicles pay no charge.

Bergen has now a fully automated toll plaza system that is based on passing without stopping for all traffic. There are no coin slots or manual service. A similar system was introduced for the Oslo Toll Ring from February 2, 2008. To ensure interoperability of electronic fee collection in Norway a system called AutoPASS is used throughout the country for toll roads and congestion charging schemes etc. Most local drivers have purchased a tag which is automatically read on passing the detectors. As of February 2008, there will be six fully automated schemes in operation. For the others motorists without a tag pay a fee at a manual barrier.

Sweden

Stockholm has a congestion pricing system, Stockholm congestion tax,[9] in use on a permanent basis since August 1, 2007,[10][11] after having had a seven month trial period from January 3 to July 31, 2006.[12] The City Centre is within the congestion tax zone. All the entrances and exits of this area have unmanned control points operating with automatic number plate recognition. All vehicles entering or exiting the congestion tax affected area, with a few exceptions, have to pay 10–20 SEK (1.09–2.18 EUR, 1.49–2.98 USD) depending on the time of day between 06:30 and 18:29. The maximum tax amount per vehicle per day is 60 SEK (6.53 EUR, 8.94 USD).[13] Payment is done by various means within 14 days after one has passed one of the control points, one cannot pay at the control points.[14]

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