Political adversaries team up on transport plan

Dansk Folkeparti, Enhedlisten and the Socialdemokrat finance minister propose a plan to improve public transport

Politics makes strange bedfellows, as the old saying goes. Danish politics has rarely seen a stranger combo than the group assembled for the announcement that one billion kroner is to be made available annually to improve public transportation nationwide.

An unlikely trio of finance minister Bjarne Corydon (Socialdemokraterne), Enhedslisten (EL) spokesperson Frank Aaen and Danske Folkeparti (DF) spokesperson Kristian Thulesen Dahl stood side by side yesterday and announced that the three parties have agreed on a plan to spend one billion kroner each year to improve public transportation. The proposal was the government’s compromise for dropping its controversial plan for imposing a congestion charge (betalingsring) around Copenhagen.

Corydon said the goal of the proposal is to make it cheaper and easier for commuters to choose public transportation over using their car.

“Those that already use public transportation deserve better and less expensive services, and we need to reduce pollution and congestion by encouraging more people to choose public transportation,” Corydon said.

The money will be raised by raising taxes and tightening regulations on car leases and demo vehicles. It has been suggested that the funds be split equally between lowering the prices of bus, train and Metro tickets and investing in improvements to the system, though nothing is yet set in stone.

It is also not clear how the windfall will be divvied up across the country. Some are calling for equal distribution, but Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen says major metropolitan areas like his city have the greatest need for relief.

“Everyone agrees that congestion and air pollution in Copenhagen is a problem,” Jensen said in a press release. “Metropolitan areas face greater challenges so it makes sense to focus investments here.”

The goal is that commuters across Denmark will see lower ticket prices starting in 2013.