The Stockholm congestion charges – five years on: effects, acceptability and lessons learnt

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Maria Börjesson
Jonas Eliasson
Muriel Hugosson
Karin Brundell-Freij

Congestion charges were introduced in Stockholm in 2006, first as a trial followed by a referendum, then permanently from 2007. This paper discusses what conclusions can be drawn from the first five years of operation, until mid-2011. We show that the traffic reduction caused by the charges has increased slightly over time, once external factors are controlled for. Alternative-fuel vehicles were exempt from the charges through 2008, and we show that this substantially increased the sales of such vehicles. We discuss public and political acceptability, synthesizing recent research and Swedish experience. We conclude that objective and subjective effects on the traffic system, as well as general environmental and political attitudes, formed the basis of the strong public support, while institutional reforms and resolution of power issues were necessary to gain political support. Finally, we briefly discuss implications for the transport planning process in general.

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