Congestion Pricing on Hold, Traffic Returns to Stockholm

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Transponder on the dashboard of a car zipping through the traffic-free streets of Stockholm on January 3, 2006, the first day of that city’s congestion pricing experiment. (Photo: Papa Razzi1)

Stockholm, Sweden’s seven-month congestion pricing experiment is on hold until a voter referendum in September. Alan Atkisson reports:

Last year, the politics around the planned "congestion tax/environmental fee" got so heated that Stockholm’s normally calm radio channels began to sound more like America’s whiniest call-in shows. Friendships strained under the divide between the "Ja" and "Nej" side of the equation, and many commentators predicted that Stockholm’s currently left-leaning city government would experience a crushing defeat on the strength of its support for this issue. All that is behind us now. Because the toll works. And the people like it. And it has been discontinued.

Discontinuing the toll was actually the plan all along. The political compromise that got the idea through involved framing it as an experiment, the "Stockholm Trial" in official talk. Stockholm would try it for seven months, and look at the data, and then the people of Stockholm would vote about whether to turn the system back on, or dismantle it. And that’s where we are now. The toll system, which worked nearly flawlessly since being inaugurated on 1 January, was turned off on 31 July.

The very next day, traffic jams reappeared on the major arteries that had, magically, been free of such jams for the previous half-year….

Read the rest of this article at World Changing.

  • It’s actually a great research design. Then you can do a pre-pricing baseline, wait a few months as driving habits change and then collect the data during the experimental phase to compare against the original baseline, and then collect data after the experiment and compare versus both baseline during the experimental phase. I hope they also collected data on economic activity, mass transit ridership and other important pieces of data that a policy maker would want to know.

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