Bourgeois Deviant

Friday, January 06, 2006

So Euro!

Every morning, I blitz through the links in the right column of this page to see who has updated, what's new and interesting and what's to be pissed off about today. Occasionally, I will repost items or discuss them here. Today Planetizen grabbed me with this headline: "Stockholm Becomes Second European City To Implement Congestion Charging"

London was the first to initiate this and though people balked at first, it seems to be working. Hopefully the same will be the case for Stockholm. Here is the abstract:
Despite public opposition, Stockholm is pushing ahead with implementation of congestion charging for a trial period.

Most Swedes take pride in their country's environmentalist credentials, but public opinion is not necessarily supportive of efforts to impose a tax on traffic. Despite polls suggesting significant opposition to the new tolls, the city of Stockholm is pushing ahead with a test run of what will become the world's most extensive system of traffic congestion charges. The trial program began January 1st and will last until July 2006. The Swedish charge aims to cut traffic on the most heavily congested roads by 10-15 percent and is also intended to "bring about an overall improvement in the urban environment in Stockholm, particularly air quality." Stockholmers will vote in September 2006 on whether to make it permanent. The experience of London indicates that a defeat for the Stockholm scheme may be far from certain. Opposition to the charges was widespread in the British capital before their introduction, but three years later polls show Londoners have warmed to the system. "There was lots of apocalyptic talk before it was introduced about the impact it would have," said Transport for London spokesman Richard Dodd.

One can only find this encouraging. Well, actually, most Americans will find this frightening. Economically speaking, if this were to be instituted in most major US cities (I am alluding to you DC) it would seriously bugger the lifestyles of many a citizen. However, buggery aside, it would be a progressive measure provided there was no managerial malfeasance.

Caveat: I hate driving. I have an immense dislike for cars the industries around them. I irrationally (perhaps) blame the auto and respective industries for many of the ills of modern society. However vehement those proclivities are and whatever their degree of rationality, I think this type of tax would certainly be a positive move for many state and local US governments to implement. The moneys derived could go towards the development of public transit, alternative energies and smarter development.

Just food for thought.


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