Editorial | Let botched congestion charge pave way for car ownership rethink

February 23rd, 2012 8:42 am| by admin

We’ll admit it. We’re disappointed that the government has chosen to scuttle its plans to charge a toll on cars entering and leaving the city. The idea wasn’t perfect, but the experience from Stockholm and London showed that a congestion charge is an effective way to reduce traffic.


More than that, however, the congestion charge was also a symbol that this government prioritised progressive solutions to modern problems. Instead of embarking on an endless cycle of measures to accommodate increasingly more cars, the government wants to cut the number of cars on the road by making it more attractive to take the train or bus. In the end, though, the plan fell short because it punished those who wanted – or needed – to drive anyway.


The government still plans to improve public transport, and it will do so without the offending toll, but any plan to encourage more people to take the bus and train needs to look at the way car ownership is taxed.


Under the current registration system, new cars are slapped with a fee amounting to 180 percent of their purchase price over 79,000 kroner. For a new car costing 250,000 kroner, only 110,000 kroner of that actually goes towards its purchase. The rest – 140,000 kroner – is a fee paid to the state.


But the problem with a fee charged at purchase is two-fold: first, it means people refrain from buying newer, more efficient and safer cars, and second, it means that the fee is tied to simple ownership, not use. That 140,000 kroner fee needs to be paid whether you drive every day or if the car never leaves your driveway.


Given the amount of money generated by car registration – 25 billion kroner in 2010 – changing the fee would require some delicate maths, but retooling it so it is assessed on a per kilometre basis would give people a disincentive to drive when a better option exists, without adding an additional burden when driving is the best option.


Another likely benefit would be an immediate surge in the sale of new cars and, in the long run, a lower average age of cars on the road. These increased sales would help offset any decline in revenue from lower registration fees.


Round off the list of initiatives by slapping a hefty surcharge on the most polluting vehicles, and Denmark could find itself garnering as much attention for coming up with a pragmatic approach to car ownership as London and Stockholm got for their congestion charges.

It will be a 'God Jul' if you're careful not to upset the hygge cart (Photos by iStock)
Living In An Expat World: High season for hygge
Christmas time is upon us – a time when the Danes go all in on ‘hygge...
Grandmother’s tapas recipes will take you back to the old country
  A“Qué viva España,” sings Manolo Escobar, and I say: “Qu...
DSB boss: we give them an alternative, where their employees can work during the journey and arrive rested (photo: iStock)
Denmark’s road warriors are increasingly turning to the train
More and more companies are telling their employees to leave the car keys a...
Social worker representative: a departure from the goal that all children should grow up without basic deprivation (photo: iStock)
Report predicts new levels of deprivation in Denmark following benefit cuts
According to a new report by the analysis bureau Analyse og Tal, the govern...
The Great Belt Bridge could be a no go by this evening (photo: iStock)
Storm Gorm will bring hurricane strength winds to Denmark
A storm is expected this evening, affecting the whole of the country, with ...
(all photos: Daniela de Lorenzo)
Out and About: Inspiring talks at the Black Diamond
This weekend we were inspired, encouraged and we learned, because TED Talks...